Perceiving biodiversity changes in daily life: Insights from an exploratory survey across Europe

Mauz, I., Fischer, A., Langers, F., Young, J., Bednar-Friedl, B., Grünberger, S. and Musceleanu, O. (2009)
In: eco.mont – Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research, 1 (2). 39-45.

Environmental problems are often constructed globally and through sophisticated instruments and methods. However, the extent to which these globally constructed problems correspond to ordinary citizens’ perceptions of the environment is often unclear. We focus here on results from an exploratory survey in eight sites across Europe, targeted at ordinary citizens, to determine whether biodiversity changes are perceived in daily life, and, if so, whether the views derived from these perceptions coincide with the discourse about global loss of biodiversity. Our results indicate that while respondents acknowledged global biodiversity loss – a process which they could not observe – their own experiences of changes in animal and plant numbers in their local environment were much more diverse. Their own observations mainly related to animals and plants which were part of their “life world”, which occurred in places familiar to them and were encountered during everyday activities not necessarily targeted at observing nature. These observations drew a complex picture of changes that is difficult to match with the discourse of global biodiversity loss.

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