Choice of biodiversity indicators may affect societal support for conservation programs

Maria Martínez-Jauregui, Julia M. Touza, Piran Crawfurd Limond White, Mario Soliño

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Preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity brings multiple health, societal and economic benefits, including life-supporting services. Biodiversity indicators are important in framing the benefits of conservation and management programs and monitoring progress toward their outcomes. Biodiversity indicators therefore provide useful tools for policymakers in helping to communicate the benefits of conservation to society but also in garnering public support for conservation. This research aimed to help improve our understanding of the role of biodiversity indicators in the way that they influence preferences towards conservation programs. A discrete choice experiment was used to estimate relative societal preferences towards multilevel dimensions of biodiversity in relation to the conservation of pine forests in the Spanish Iberian Peninsula. Results show that (i) the level of biodiversity indicator (within species, between species and within ecosystems) matters, (ii) indicators related to the biodiversity within ecosystems are valued the most, and (iii) the use of several biodiversity indicators together is generally better at delivering benefits to society, but the value of these is reduced where there is redundancy between them. Overall, the most preferred indicators were the area of land covered by the conservation project, the status of keystone ecosystem components, and the number of native species. Some indicators such as invasive alien species and genetic diversity are least preferred and may be less helpful to how conservation efforts are perceived by the citizens. By careful consideration of which biodiversity indicators to use, policymakers and conservation managers can maximize societal acceptability of public investments in conservation efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107203
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020

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© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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