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Durham e-Theses
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Biodiversity Perception and Value in UK Protected Areas

CRABBE, JULIA,JENNIFER,LUCY (2012) Biodiversity Perception and Value in UK Protected Areas. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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There is a wealth of literature on people’s opinions, perceptions and economic valuations of particular species, but very few studies that focus on public opinion of biodiversity as a whole. In particular, the public’s ability (or inability) to perceive species richness within protected areas (PA’s) has received little attention.

This study is based on three data sets from a subset of six, eight and seventeen PA’s within the UK. It investigates how accurately PA visitors can estimate the species richness of birds and butterflies in each PA. It also explores visitors’ motivations for visiting particular PA’s, and their economic valuation of biodiversity within PA’s, using contingent valuation methods, and the travel cost method. Moreover, this study uses generalised linear models to explore variations in visitor patterns to PA’s based on biodiversity related, and non-biodiversity related predictor variables. Visitors to the PA’s sampled had an accurate perception of the numbers of bird and butterfly species, and were primarily visiting for biodiversity related reasons. Biodiversity was considered important regardless of the actual level of biodiversity within the PA. Initial exploration of visitor data indicated that the most important factor in influencing visitation across reserves during the breeding season was the presence of rare bird species. Furthermore, the amount that visitor’s were willing to pay to visit PA’s, the amount they spent, and their travel costs all increased logistically as biodiversity increased.

Although this study is based on only a few protected areas, and, therefore, cannot be used as a direct measure of the public’s perception or valuation of biodiversity across the UK, it does indicate that visitors to the areas sampled have a fairly accurate perception of biodiversity, and consider biodiversity important when visiting reserves. Therefore, an increase in biodiversity within a PA could potentially justify an increase in entrance fee. Finally, the finding that that visitor spending, in both the PA and surrounding area, increased as biodiversity rose, could be an important discovery with regards to building additional support for biodiversity conservation from people and businesses local to PA’s.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Keywords:Biodiversity, Protected Area, United Kingdom, Perception, Valuation, Willingness to pay, Travel Cost Method
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Aug 2012 11:40

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