Conservation choices, endangered species and climate change: public views and potential for adaptive thinking

Authors: Guillaume Peterson St-Laurent*, University of British Columbia, Robin Gregory, Decision Research and University of British Columbia, Robert Kozak, University of British Columbia, Sara Nawaz, University of British Columbia, Terre Satterfield, University of British Columbia, Shannon Hagerman, University of British Columbia
Topics: Environmental Perception, Natural Resources, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Climate change; Endangered species, Adaptive management; Surveys; Conservation; Public opinion
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The seriousness of threats to endangered species is forcing policymakers and resource managers to consider novel, climate-adaptive management interventions to complement or replace existing conservation approaches. That said, little is known about the strength or stability of public understanding and support of these novel conservation interventions. This study draws on the results from an online decision-pathway survey (n=1490) to explore the views and potential for adaptive thinking of the general public in Canada and the United States regarding a range of conventional and novel management initiatives designed to protect endangered species. The iconic bristlecone pine is used as a case study. We ask two main types of questions: what are individuals’ initial preferences for management initiatives designed to protect (or not) the bristlecone pine, and what are their comfort levels in shifting to a new preferred management initiative after receiving additional information in the form of nudges of varying strength? Our findings suggest that members of the public respond well to the core ideas of adaptive management and, in general, show a surprising degree of support for a more interventionist management response to avoid extinction so long as a clear rationale is provided. The results also encourage consideration of a shift in public engagement from the provision of information to its dissemination and communication in forms that are easily understood and can lead to more widespread understanding, and deeper consideration, of a variety of novel management strategies that support adaptive conservation initiatives.

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