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Understanding local community’s values, worldviews and perceptions in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve, Scotland.

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http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479716308246
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume186
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2016

Abstract

Biosphere reserves have been studied around the world, but methods to elicit community’s values, worldviews and perceptions are missing. A greater understanding of these can help avoid tension and improve successful management. This paper used a mixed-methods survey to elicit local community’s environmental values, ecological world views and perceptions of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve (GSABR). Over three weeks, forty participants from three communities of the GSABR responded to a semi-structured mixed-methods survey. The survey revealed that residents of the GSABR greatly value wildlife and beauty of nature, and that the majority of the respondents showed concern for the environment from an ecocentric worldview. Results also revealed that the most influential tested socio-demographic characteristic affecting people’s relationship to their environment is their professional affiliation. Tourism and recreation were seen as major benefits of the recent biosphere designation. Results did highlight contrasting benefits from the designation for different stakeholder groups, which could potentially lead to tensions and should be considered in the reserve management. Given the community’s supportive world views and perceptions, greater participation in the biosphere’s management in likely to be welcomed and should be used to avoid or mediate any conflicts. The mixed-method survey developed for this study, proved successful in eliciting these themes in the GSABR. We recommend other biosphere reserves replicate this research, to gain better understanding of local communities and increase their support and participation in reserve management.

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