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Study Shows Public Lands Visitation and Fishing Lead to Less Support for NGOs
A new study published in PLoS ONE looked at who supports conservation NGOs. The starting point hypothesis was that those who have more experience with nature would be more willing to financially contribute to mainline conservation NGOs (the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club or Environmental Defense). The researchers found that, surprisingly to some, not all types of exposure to nature are beneficiary. In fact, some outdoors activities are negatively correlated with support to conservation NGOs.
What the Data Says
What types of "nature" activities are positively correlated with support for conservation NGOs and what types are negatively correlated?
"Contributions are positively correlated with per capita backpacking and hiking 11-12 years earlier, but are negatively correlated with less elite outdoor activities, such as public lands visitation or fishing. Correlations with these latter forms of nature exposure are clumped into two time frames: a few years after the outdoor nature recreation occurs, and then approximately 16 years after the event."
So taking a walk in a state or national park or fishing apparently doesn't make people more likely to support nature conservation, it makes them less likely to do so. Could it be become they feel they're somehow doing their part just by doing these activities? Maybe.
One worrying data point: There's been a decline in the type of "strenuous" outdoors activities that are best correlated with support for conservation NGOs, which could mean a future decline in support (though if that happens, it will hopefully be counter-balanced by an increase in support as the general public becomes better educated on the issues).
The study concludes: "We project that the recent decline in popularity of hiking and backpacking will negatively impact conservation NGO contributions from approximately 2010-2011 through at least 2018."
Via PloS, EurekAlert, FuturePundit
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