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Do farmers and conservationists perceive landscape changes differently?

Noémi Ujházy, Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Environmental and Landscape Geography, Budapest, Hungary; Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Geographical Institute, Budapest, Hungary
Zsolt Molnár, Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Vácrátót, Hungary; Centre for Ecological Research, GINOP Sustainable Ecosystems Group, Tihany, Hungary
Ákos Bede-Fazekas, Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Vácrátót, Hungary; Centre for Ecological Research, GINOP Sustainable Ecosystems Group, Tihany, Hungary
† Mária Ottilia Szabó, Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Environmental and Landscape Geography, Budapest, Hungary
Marianna Biró, Centre for Ecological Research, GINOP Sustainable Ecosystems Group, Tihany, Hungary

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11742-250312

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Abstract

Broader understanding of stakeholders’ perceptions of landscape changes is needed to cope with global environmental challenges locally. In this study, farmers’ and conservationists’-researchers’ perceptions of landscape changes were compared by analyzing interviews conducted in the Danube-Tisza Interfluve region of Hungary through a combined quantitative and qualitative approach. Perceptions concerning the trends of changes (increasing or decreasing), as well as evaluations (positive and negative) of 40 different landscape elements were analyzed. The quantitative analysis consisted of landscape elements of different native and alien plant and animal species, natural habitats, and types of land use. For a qualitative analysis, one landscape element, the tussock sedge beds, a type of wetland habitat, was chosen. According to the quantitative analysis, the two groups held similar views on trends. However, their evaluations differed substantially. The most significant differences appeared between the two groups in cases where land use and biodiversity goals were in competition, e.g., abandonment and non-native plantations. Changes causing both decline of biodiversity and the fading of the cultural landscapes were seen similarly negatively by the two groups, e.g., disappearance of lakes, spread of invasive plants, expansion of wild boar. However, quantitative analysis also showed that conservationists-researchers had higher consensus, while farmers were much more diverse in their evaluations. Qualitative analysis explored the reasons for these differences. Although conservationists-researchers shared eco-centric values, farmers evaluated landscape changes heterogeneously based on individual constellations of economic interest, cultural values, and their sense of responsibility for nature. Our study, with the combined application of quantitative and qualitative analyses, provides new understandings of both between-group and within-group differences and similarities of farmers’ and conservationists’-researchers’ landscape change perceptions.

Key words

consensus; environmental knowledge; environmental value; perception; stakeholder; wetland

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087