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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Thomas Mason

St John, Freya A. V., Mason, Tom H. E. & Bunnefeld, Nils (2020). The role of risk perception and affect in predicting support for conservation policy under rapid ecosystem change. Conservation Science and Practice

Author(s) from Durham


Conservation conflicts are damaging for humans and wildlife, with differences in people's objectives fuelling challenges of managing complex, dynamic systems. We investigate the relative importance of economic, psychological (affect, trust and risk perception) and ecological factors in determining farmers' management preferences, using Greenland barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) on Islay, Scotland, as a case study. Barnacle geese reduce agricultural productivity on Islay, negatively impacting household economies. Since 1992, farmers have received partial compensation but a new culling scheme has escalated conflict between conservation and agricultural interests. Using a questionnaire, we collected data from 75% of the farmers receiving goose payments. We found that affect was a strong driver of both risk perception and management preferences. However, we revealed complexity in these relationships, with trust and economic factors also influencing decision‐making. Psychological and economic factors surrounding wildlife management must be understood if we are to achieve conservation objectives in human dominated landscapes.