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1.  Quantifying Preferences for the Natural World Using Monetary and Nonmonetary Assessments of Value 
Conservation Biology  2014;28(2):404-413.
Given that funds for biodiversity conservation are limited, there is a need to understand people’s preferences for its different components. To date, such preferences have largely been measured in monetary terms. However, how people value biodiversity may differ from economic theory, and there is little consensus over whether monetary metrics are always appropriate or the degree to which other methods offer alternative and complementary perspectives on value. We used a choice experiment to compare monetary amounts recreational visitors to urban green spaces were willing to pay for biodiversity enhancement (increases in species richness for birds, plants, and aquatic macroinvertebrates) with self-reported psychological gains in well-being derived from visiting the same sites. Willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates were significant and positive, and respondents reported high gains in well-being across 3 axes derived from environmental psychology theories (reflection, attachment, continuity with past). The 2 metrics were broadly congruent. Participants with above-median self-reported well-being scores were willing to pay significantly higher amounts for enhancing species richness than those with below-median scores, regardless of taxon. The socio-economic and demographic background of participants played little role in determining either their well-being or the probability of choosing a paying option within the choice experiment. Site-level environmental characteristics were only somewhat related to WTP, but showed strong associations with self-reported well-being. Both approaches are likely to reflect a combination of the environmental properties of a site and unobserved individual preference heterogeneity for the natural world. Our results suggest that either metric will deliver mutually consistent results in an assessment of environmental preferences, although which approach is preferable depends on why one wishes to measure values for the natural world.
PMCID: PMC4232860  PMID: 24372643
choice modeling; ecosystem services; psychological well-being; stated preference; urban ecology; valuation
2.  What Personal and Environmental Factors Determine Frequency of Urban Greenspace Use? 
For many people, urban greenspaces are the only places where they encounter the natural world. This is concerning as there is growing evidence demonstrating that human well-being is enhanced by exposure to nature. There is, therefore, a compelling argument to increase how frequently people use urban greenspaces. This may be achieved in two complementary ways by encouraging: (I) non-users to start visiting urban greenspaces; (II) existing users to visit more often. Here we examine the factors that influence frequency of greenspace visitation in the city of Sheffield, England. We demonstrate that people who visit a site least frequently state lower self-reported psychological well-being. We hypothesised that a combination of socio-demographic characteristics of the participants, and the biophysical attributes of the greenspaces that they were visiting, would be important in influencing visit frequency. However, socio-demographic characteristics (income, age, gender) were not found to be predictors. In contrast, some biophysical attributes of greenspaces were significantly related to use frequency. Frequent use was more likely when the time taken to reach a greenspace was shorter and for sites with a higher index of greenspace neglect, but were unrelated to tree cover or bird species richness. We related these results to the motivations that people provide for their visits. Infrequent users were more likely to state motivations associated with the quality of the space, while frequent users gave motivations pertaining to physical, repeated activities. This suggests that there may be no simple way to manage greenspaces to maximise their use across user cohorts as the motivations for visits are very different.
PMCID: PMC4143844  PMID: 25105548
ecosystem services; psychological well-being; urban ecology; urbanisation; motivation
3.  Correction: Can REDD+ Help the Conservation of Restricted-Range Island Species? Insights from the Endemism Hotspot of São Tomé 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):10.1371/annotation/f3b7b8dc-a2d6-43e8-945a-566a7082cb12.
PMCID: PMC3782402
4.  Can REDD+ Help the Conservation of Restricted-Range Island Species? Insights from the Endemism Hotspot of São Tomé 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74148.
REDD+ aims to offset greenhouse gas emissions through “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”. Some authors suggest that REDD+ can bring additional benefits for biodiversity, namely for the conservation of extinction-prone restricted-range species. Here, we assess this claim, using São Tomé Island (Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe) as a case study. We quantified the abundance of bird and tree species, and calculated the aboveground carbon stocks across a gradient of land-use intensity. We found a strong spatial congruence between carbon and the presence and abundance of endemic species, supporting the potential of REDD+ to protect these taxa. We then assessed if REDD+ could help protect the forests of São Tomé and Príncipe. To do so, we used OSIRIS simulations to predict country-level deforestation under two different REDD+ designs. These simulations showed that REDD+ could promote the loss of forests in São Tomé and Príncipe through leakage. This happened even when additional payments for biodiversity were included in the simulations, and despite São Tomé and Príncipe having the fourth highest carbon stocks per land area and the second highest biodiversity values according to the OSIRIS database. These results show weaknesses of OSIRIS as a planning tool, and demonstrate that the benefits that REDD+ might bring for biodiversity are strongly dependent on its careful implementation. We recommend that payment for ecosystem services programmes such as REDD+ develop safeguards to ensure that biodiversity co-benefits are met and perverse outcomes are avoided across all tropical countries. In particular, we advise specific safeguards regarding the conservation of extinction-prone groups, such as island restricted-range species.
PMCID: PMC3774614  PMID: 24066109
5.  Temporal changes in greenspace in a highly urbanized region 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):763-766.
The majority of the world's population now lives in towns and cities, and urban areas are expanding faster than any other land-use type. In response to this phenomenon, two opposing arguments have emerged: whether cities should ‘sprawl’ into the wider countryside, or ‘densify’ through the development of existing urban greenspace. However, these greenspaces are increasingly recognized as being central to the amelioration of urban living conditions, supporting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision. Taking the highly urbanized region of England as a case study, we use data from a variety of sources to investigate the impact of national-level planning policy on temporal patterns in the extent of greenspace in cities. Between 1991 and 2006, greenspace showed a net increase in all but one of 13 cities. However, the majority of this gain occurred prior to 2001, and greenspace has subsequently declined in nine cities. Such a dramatic shift in land use coincides with policy reforms in 2000, which favoured densification. Here, we illustrate the dynamic and policy-responsive nature of urban land use, thereby highlighting the need for a detailed investigation of the trade-offs associated with different mechanisms of urban densification to optimize and secure the diverse benefits associated with greenspaces.
PMCID: PMC3169039  PMID: 21429910
urbanization; ecosystem services; human population density; urban densification; urban ecology; urban greenspace
6.  Household Factors Influencing Participation in Bird Feeding Activity: A National Scale Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39692.
Ameliorating pressures on the ecological condition of the wider landscape outside of protected areas is a key focus of conservation initiatives in the developed world. In highly urbanized nations, domestic gardens can play a significant role in maintaining biodiversity and facilitating human-wildlife interactions, which benefit personal and societal health and well-being. The extent to which sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors are associated with engagement in wildlife gardening activities remain largely unresolved. Using two household-level survey datasets gathered from across Britain, we determine whether and how the socioeconomic background of a household influences participation in food provision for wild birds, the most popular and widespread form of human-wildlife interaction. A majority of households feed birds (64% across rural and urban areas in England, and 53% within five British study cities). House type, household size and the age of the head of the household were all important predictors of bird feeding, whereas gross annual household income, the occupation of the head of the household, and whether the house is owned or rented were not. In both surveys, the prevalence of bird feeding rose as house type became more detached and as the age of the head of the household increased. A clear, consistent pattern between households of varying size was less evident. When regularity of food provision was examined in the study cities, just 29% of households provided food at least once a week. The proportion of households regularly feeding birds was positively related to the age of the head of the household, but declined with gross annual income. As concerns grow about the lack of engagement between people and the natural environment, such findings are important if conservation organizations are successfully to promote public participation in wildlife gardening specifically and environmentally beneficial behaviour in society more generally.
PMCID: PMC3386264  PMID: 22761872
7.  Field-level bird abundances are enhanced by landscape-scale agri-environment scheme uptake 
Biology Letters  2010;6(5):643-646.
Despite two decades of agri-environment schemes (AESs) aimed at mitigating farmland biodiversity losses, the evidence that such programmes actually benefit biodiversity remains limited. Using field-level surveys, we assess the effectiveness of AESs in enhancing bird abundances in an upland area of England, where schemes have been operating for over 20 years. In such a region, the effects of AESs should be readily apparent, and we predict that bird abundances will co-vary with both field- and landscape-scale measures of implementation. Using an information theoretic approach, we found that, for abundances of species of conservation concern and upland specialists, measures of AES implementation and habitat type at both scales appear in the most parsimonious models. Field-level bird abundances are higher where more of the surrounding landscape is included in an AES. While habitat remains a more influential predictor, we suggest that landscape-scale implementation results in enhanced bird abundances. Hence, measures of the success of AESs should consider landscape-wide benefits as well as localized impacts.
PMCID: PMC2936161  PMID: 20410029
landscape-scale conservation; peak district; environmentally sensitive area

Results 1-7 (7)