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Investigating predictors of perceptions and behaviors of members of the international conservation community: the case of palm oil sustainability

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Title:Investigating predictors of perceptions and behaviors of members of the international conservation community: the case of palm oil sustainability
Authors:LaPorte, Patricia de S.
Contributors:Carlson, Kimberly M. (advisor)
Natural Resources and Environmental Management (department)
Keywords:Environmental management
Social psychology
biodiversity conservation
show 4 moreenvironmental governance
forest-risk commodity
palm oil
science-action gap
show less
Date Issued:2020
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:Expansion of tropical agricultural commodities contributes to economic growth and rural development but drives deforestation and biodiversity loss in producing countries. As a major forest-risk commodity, palm oil has been the target of substantial attention from the international conservation community, including individuals in civil society organizations, researchers, and government employees focused on environmental issues. These professionals influence public awareness, environmental policy, and funding allocation. Yet, it is not uncommon for them to have different opinions regarding conservation interventions, especially when addressing complex socio-environmental systems such as agricultural production in tropical regions to supply global demand. Yet, little is known about the underlying causes of these differences, especially when scientific evidence is uncertain or inexistent. My research investigated the predictors of conservation professionals' perceptions and behaviors. It explained the support of conservation interventions by addressing three questions: 1) What factors influence perceptions of oil palm's impacts and conservation intervention effectiveness? 2) How do attitudes, knowledge, perceptions, and other factors affect palm oil purchasing behavior? 3) Did a comprehensive report regarding the impacts of palm oil and the effectiveness of interventions affect perceptions and behaviors? I analyzed data collected from conservation professionals based in various regions applying a conceptual model that integrated the Theory of Planned Behavior and Value-Belief-Norm theory. I used ordered logistic and difference-in-difference regressions to examine the associations between predictors and explanatory variables. My findings indicated that survey respondents shared similar perceptions regarding palm oil's impact on social, environmental, and social outcomes. However, they had less agreement regarding conservation funding priorities and effective interventions in the palm oil sector. Moreover, their perceptions and behaviors were significantly related to several characteristics, including work time with palm oil issues, self-reported environmental and economic knowledge of palm oil impacts, source of information, region of residency, and gender. I found no significant change in most respondents' perceptions and behaviors after reading a report on oil palm. My findings contribute to understanding the multiple influences on conservation community member perceptions and behaviors, especially when scientific evidence is limited. To effectively influence opinions, I suggest using tailored communication by region of residency and worktime with the commodity to share research findings regarding tropical forest-risk commodities.
Pages/Duration:104 pages
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.S. - Natural Resources and Environmental Management

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