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Same river, different values and why it matters

Authors

  • Eloise Seymour,

  • Allan Curtis,

  • David J. Pannell,

  • Anna Roberts,

  • Catherine Allan


Eloise Seymour is a Researcher with Farm Services Victoria, Department of Primary Industries (RMB 1145, Chiltern Valley Rd, Rutherglen, Vic. 3685, Australia; Tel: +61 2 6030 4509; Email: eloise.seymour@dpi.vic.gov.au). Allan Curtis is a Professor of Integrated Environmental Management at the Institute For Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University (PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia; Email: acurtis@csu.edu.au). David Pannell is a Professor, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia (MO89 UWA, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia; Email: David.Pannell@uwa.edu.au). Anna Roberts is a Senior Researcher with the Department of Primary Industries (RMB 1145, Chiltern Valley Rd, Rutherglen, Vic. 3685, Australia; Email: anna.roberts@dpi.vic.gov.au). Catherine Allan is a Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University (PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia; Email: callan@csu.edu.au). Eloise undertook this research as part of her PhD studies at Charles Sturt University.

Abstract

Summary  Examination of the values that people assign to specific natural places is likely to be useful for environmental decision-making but is an underdeveloped area of socio-psychological research. A mail survey was used to examine the differences and similarities in values assigned by people to the Loddon River in south-eastern Australia. Environmental, social and economic values were explored across five different community types: urban residents, rural residents, natural resource management (NRM) professionals, environmental group members (EGM) and landholders. While urban residents, rural residents and landholders had similar responses, NRM professionals and EGM placed much stronger emphasis on environmental values derived from the river, and much less emphasis on economic values. Members of two community types (EGM and NRM professionals) responded in a relatively homogenous way, within a narrow range of response options. By contrast, three community types (urban residents, rural residents and landholders) responded in more diverse ways. There were similarities in the social values (historical and aesthetic) expressed by the different community types, suggesting common points for stakeholder engagement in the management of the river. Results point to the need for environmental managers to ensure that consultation is not limited to the most actively engaged sectors of the community, as their responses may not be representative of other groups.

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