Are all rivers equal? The role of education in attitudes towards temporary and perennial rivers

Leigh, C., Boersma, K.S., Galatowitsch, M.L., Milner, V.S. and Stubbington, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8475-5109, 2019. Are all rivers equal? The role of education in attitudes towards temporary and perennial rivers. People and Nature. ISSN 2575-8314

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Abstract

1. Temporary rivers (TRs) are prevalent, biodiverse ecosystems yet often overlooked and underprotected. This may be because inadequate understanding of their ecosystem services leaves them undervalued by society. However, evidence of negative attitudes towards TRs is scant.

2. We investigated the strength and extent of negative attitudes by surveying undergraduate students from Australia, UK, and USA on their agreement (positive attitude) or disagreement (negative attitude) with statements about the ecosystem services, moral consideration, and protection of perennial and TRs. Students were surveyed at the start and end of teaching units covering environmental topics.

3. Disagreement with statements was uncommon (17% across all statements and surveys) and attitudes towards TRs were mostly positive. However, attitudes towards perennial rivers were more positive, particularly in comparison with non‐flowing TRs and with regard to their aesthetic value and recreational amenity. There were no significant differences in attitudes towards perennial and TRs in one teaching unit in Australia, and responses were more often more positive at the end of teaching units in the UK.

4. Our study indicates education can change attitudes. The overall positive response to statements may reflect underlying environmental awareness and pre‐existing interest of participants enrolled in environmental and biology degrees, but not necessarily specific knowledge of TRs. General environmental education across the wider community could improve attitudes towards TRs, particularly when they are not flowing or in regions where they are uncommon or inconspicuous, and could support positive protection measures and innovative, inclusive management.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: People and Nature
Creators: Leigh, C., Boersma, K.S., Galatowitsch, M.L., Milner, V.S. and Stubbington, R.
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. on behalf of British Ecological Society
Date: 10 April 2019
ISSN: 2575-8314
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1002/pan3.22DOI
Rights: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.© 2019 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 16 Apr 2019 14:04
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2019 14:04
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/36288

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