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Attitudes toward forest diversity and forest ecosystem services--a cross-cultural comparison between China and Switzerland


Lindemann-Matthies, P; Keller, D; Li, X; Schmid, B (2014). Attitudes toward forest diversity and forest ecosystem services--a cross-cultural comparison between China and Switzerland. Journal of Plant Ecology, 7(1):1-9.

Abstract

Aims: Despite the current interest in services provided by ecosystems and the role of biodiversity, the relationship among human attitudes, biodiversity and ecosystem services has hardly been investigated. Moreover, few studies have examined attitudes toward nature in cross-cultural comparisons. This study investigates the attitudes of Chinese and Swiss people, both environmental experts and laypersons, toward forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Methods: Overall, 640 people in China and Switzerland were interviewed with the help of a standardized questionnaire. In each country, the study population was equally divided into an urban (80 city dwellers and 80 environmental science students) and a rural (80 forest visitors and 80 farmers) study group. The 15-minute interviews took place in the cities of Beijing and Zurich and in the rural forested areas of Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province and Lake Sempach, canton Lucerne. Attitudes toward forest biodiversity were investigated with the help of color photographs that depicted both monocultures and species-rich forests typical for China and Switzerland. Attitudes toward ecosystem services were investigated with the help of 13 statements on provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services of forests.
Important Findings: On average, Chinese participants showed no strong preferences for biodiversity, whereas the Swiss clearly preferred species-rich forests over monocultures. However, Chinese environmental science students did prefer species-rich forests and attributed to them a higher conservation value because of their higher biodiversity. Although there were no strong preferences for Chinese versus Swiss forests, all participants correctly answered that Chinese forests are more species rich in terms of plants and animals and thus found them less boring and more interesting, but also less managed, than Swiss forests. All participants highly valued the ecosystem services provided by forests; especially the regulating and supporting ones. Environmental science students and farmers placed more importance on the provisioning services, whereas city dwellers and forest visitors emphasized more on the regulating services. The disjuncture between the high ecological quality of species-rich forests and their low attractiveness to Chinese study participants points to a potential conflict between conservation policies and the public’s preferences. A better communication of ecosystem services provided by forest biodiversity to the public might change these preferences in favor of ecological quality, as already observed among Chinese environmental science students.

Aims: Despite the current interest in services provided by ecosystems and the role of biodiversity, the relationship among human attitudes, biodiversity and ecosystem services has hardly been investigated. Moreover, few studies have examined attitudes toward nature in cross-cultural comparisons. This study investigates the attitudes of Chinese and Swiss people, both environmental experts and laypersons, toward forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Methods: Overall, 640 people in China and Switzerland were interviewed with the help of a standardized questionnaire. In each country, the study population was equally divided into an urban (80 city dwellers and 80 environmental science students) and a rural (80 forest visitors and 80 farmers) study group. The 15-minute interviews took place in the cities of Beijing and Zurich and in the rural forested areas of Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province and Lake Sempach, canton Lucerne. Attitudes toward forest biodiversity were investigated with the help of color photographs that depicted both monocultures and species-rich forests typical for China and Switzerland. Attitudes toward ecosystem services were investigated with the help of 13 statements on provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services of forests.
Important Findings: On average, Chinese participants showed no strong preferences for biodiversity, whereas the Swiss clearly preferred species-rich forests over monocultures. However, Chinese environmental science students did prefer species-rich forests and attributed to them a higher conservation value because of their higher biodiversity. Although there were no strong preferences for Chinese versus Swiss forests, all participants correctly answered that Chinese forests are more species rich in terms of plants and animals and thus found them less boring and more interesting, but also less managed, than Swiss forests. All participants highly valued the ecosystem services provided by forests; especially the regulating and supporting ones. Environmental science students and farmers placed more importance on the provisioning services, whereas city dwellers and forest visitors emphasized more on the regulating services. The disjuncture between the high ecological quality of species-rich forests and their low attractiveness to Chinese study participants points to a potential conflict between conservation policies and the public’s preferences. A better communication of ecosystem services provided by forest biodiversity to the public might change these preferences in favor of ecological quality, as already observed among Chinese environmental science students.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodiversity preferences, cross-cultural comparison, forests, valuation of ecosystem services
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:09 Jul 2014 15:43
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:57
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1752-9921
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jpe/rtt015
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-97259

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