Looking beyond superficial knowledge gaps: understanding public representations of biodiversity

A.E. Buijs, A. Fischer, D. Rink, J.C. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Lack of public support for, and protest against, biodiversity management measures have often been explained by the apparently inadequate knowledge of biodiversity in the general public. In stark contrast to this assumption of public ignorance, our results from focus group discussions in The Netherlands, Germany and Scotland show that members of the general public use very rich and complex social representations of biodiversity to argue for particular approaches to biodiversity management. Within these representations, we identified important components, such as (i) the functions and benefits associated with biodiversity, (ii) attributes and values connected to nature, and (iii) views on the relationships between humans and nature. Notions within these components varied across individuals and groups and were closely linked to their views on biodiversity management in general and specific management measures in particular. This study illustrates how a better understanding of these representations and their links to public attitudes is crucial to ensure effective communication on biodiversity and to improve public support for biodiversity management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-80
JournalInternational Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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