EU MarBEF Demonstrates Importance of Cultural Views in Conservation Policy

21 June 2012: A study by the EU's MarBEF network (Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning EU Network of Excellence) finds that, while the European public is willing to pay for biodiversity conservation, its preferences regarding conservation of specific species vary with cultural and regional associations, including the impact of a species' "charisma." The study assessed the willingness-to-pay of 1502 participants to determine how they value mammals, fish, birds, invertebrates and algae.

The study focused on three sites: the Azores, Portugal; Isles of Scilly, UK; and the Gulf of Gdansk, Poland. MarBEF found that fish are valued most highly the Azores, where fishing provides one of the main economic and cultural bases. Algae is valued more highly in the Isles of Scilly than in the Azores, and Gulf of Gdansk participants prefer mammals, then fish, birds, invertebrates and algae, in that order.

The findings demonstrate that the public in Europe is aware of the value of and supports conservation of marine biodiversity, and also that awareness of the importance of the range of marine biodiversity is growing. However, it concludes, conservation programmes should be tailored to align with local cultural and social values. [DG Environment News Alert]