A global analysis of factors predicting conservationists' values

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Abstract

There exists a wealth of philosophical, sociological and anthropological literature on environmental values; yet, few studies have investigated the values held by conservationists themselves, and how these shape the conservation movement.

Here, we present the first global analysis of the relationships between conservationists' values and a broad range of conservationists' characteristics, categorised into their educational and professional background, geographical context and personal experiences in childhood and adulthood. We draw on survey responses from 9264 conservationists from 149 countries to conduct the broadest analysis to date of what factors are associated with the values of conservationists.

Our results demonstrate that 13 characteristics of conservationists' personal and professional backgrounds are statistically related to their values regarding the place of people, science, capitalism and nonhuman entities in conservation. Of these characteristics, educational specialism and continent of nationality had the highest predictive power. We also draw on open-text responses to uncover other factors that conservationists identify as having been important in shaping their values; travel and religion were the most commonly reported.

Our findings have important implications for current debates on diversity and inclusion within the conservation community. In particular, we provide broad empirical evidence that increasing personal and professional diversity in conservation organisations is likely to also increase the range of values represented. We also discuss the implications of our results for interdisciplinarity, the management of disagreement and conflict in conservation, and the training of future generations of conservationists.
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Original languageEnglish
JournalPeople and Nature
Early online date2 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2022

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