Lay people's images of nature: comprehensive frameworks of values, beliefs, and value orientations

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esearch on attitudes of the general public toward nature conservation often focuses on values, beliefs, or value orientations as separate cognitions. This article argues for a more holistic approach that integrates various attitudinal components into comprehensive frameworks or ¿images of nature.¿ Based on qualitative studies in the Netherlands, five ideal types of images of nature were derived: the wilderness image, the autonomy image, the inclusive image, the aesthetic image, and the functional image, all with different implications for natural resource management. Some images focus on either individualistic or holistic interpretations of the intrinsic value of nature, while others focus more on beautiful landscapes or utilitarian functions. Integrating the pluralism of cognitions into images of nature may help managers to understand conflicts based on diverging opinions on local nature conservation practices. In participatory processes, images of nature may function as sensitizing concepts to facilitate discussions between experts and the general public.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-432
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • nature conservation
  • landscape
  • understandings
  • biodiversity
  • netherlands
  • exploration
  • preferences
  • knowledge
  • attitudes
  • visions


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