Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/24301
Title: The role of connectedness to nature & place for participatory protected area management
Authors: Restall, Brian
Keywords: Place attachment
Environmental psychology
Geographic information systems
Protected areas
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: This thesis is based on the hypothesis that connectedness to nature and place (attachment) is likely to be a strong influence on how local communities and stakeholders respond to designation and management of protected areas. This study therefore explores relationships between connectedness to nature (CNT), place attachment (PA) and pro-environmental behaviour (EB), using the Maltese Islands as a case study, and focusing in particular on the potential for these constructs to be used for more effective involvement of stakeholders in the management of such sites. The intensities of CNT, PA and pro-environment behavioural intentions, as expressed by a sample of household respondents across the islands, were measured (n=401) in order to establish a national baseline. Results were then analysed and used to examine the relationship between these three constructs using correlation analysis and structural equation modeling. The influence of demographic variables on results was also explored. Results obtained were further mapped, in order to analyse the spatial relationship between respondent home location and proximity to protected areas, and to allow analytical comparisons between these constructs and other environmental and place-related variables. The study identifies promising opportunities for a more systematic understanding of the sub-dimensions of place attachment (Identity, Dependence, Bonding) and connectedness to nature (Self, Perspective, Experience), and how these relate to socio-cultural factors and location. The study results also found positive associations between CNT, PA and EB, and that age and educational achievement were moderate predictors of positive EB. While results support the proposition that PA has a weak positive association with overall positive EB intentions, CNT shows a moderate correlation with EB. Geo-spatial mapping of results indicate that existing protected areas (whether protected for nature, landscapes, or urban qualities) are evidently loci of community attachments with nature and place. Results also suggest that PA and CNT are in fact quite different social and spatial constructs, with clearly diverse, but also common, physical locations of attachment or connectedness. Differences in means intensity between Malta and Gozo were noted for all three constructs. Spatial analysis shows a clear relationship between respondents’ home location, PA, CNT and EB with protected areas in their vicinity however, attachment to place is not only correlated to NATURA 2000 sites but also to protected urban areas. The mapping of these social constructs facilitates overlaying of different data layers, allowing for a combined analysis of the values that members of a community attribute to nature and place. This socio-spatial projection provides a complementary perspective for resource managers, allowing them to take into consideration the public’s values in place-based protected areamanagement. It also builds an argument for socio-spatial analysis of these social constructs not only for the purposes of environmental planning, but also to help people improve connectedness to nature and place for their well-being and their combined effect on pro-environmental behaviour. There thus appears to be merit in recognising not only the professional’s technical input in protected area management, but also the validity of the lay public’s deeper attachments towards place within a socio-spatial planning framework. This study also provides recommendations on how practitioners can leverage these findings to enhance people’s pro-environmental behaviour and engagement with protected areas in order to truly manage them for and with people.
Description: PH.D.ENV.MANGT.&PLANNING
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar//handle/123456789/24301
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsES - 2017
Dissertations - InsESEMP - 2017

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