Local social capital and the acceptance of Protected Area policies: An empirical study of two Ramsar river delta ecosystems in northern Greece

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Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Managing Protected Areas (PAs) is a challenging task, and globally many instruments have been utilised for this purpose. Existing research demonstrates that the effectiveness of these instruments is highly dependent on their social acceptability among local communities resident within PAs. Consequently, investigating local attitudes and perceptions of Protected Area (PA) policies has been emphasised in recent studies. Drawing on empirical work conducted in two National Parks including river delta ecosystems designated as Ramsar wetlands in northern Greece, this paper examines local residents' perceptions of three hypothesized policy options (regulatory, market-based and participatory) for Park management. The influence of social capital elements (social trust, institutional trust and social networks) on residents' perceptions is explored. The findings reveal a high degree of importance attached by resident communities to Park designation in both PM, though residents' perceptions of the proposed management options varied. The regulatory option was regarded as the least restrictive, while the most restrictive was perceived to be the market-based option. However, greater benefits were identified by residents from the market-based option, while the fewest benefits were considered to arise from the proposed regulatory option. Furthermore, local residents' perceptions were significantly shaped by the proposed management and decision-making structure offered under each policy option. The influence of different social capital elements on residents' perceptions also varied in the study sample, with social trust and institutional trust positively correlated with the benefits that were perceived to arise from the different policy options. Moreover, when social capital was measured as an aggregate indicator at the level of the individual, it was positively correlated with perceived environmental benefits. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume96
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Social networks, Residents' perceptions, Evros Delta, Trust, Biodiversity conservation, Axios Delta