Convergence of stakeholders' environmental threat perceptions following mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

Thiault, Lauric, Curnock, Matthew I., Gurney, Georgina G., Heron, Scott F., Marshall, Nadine A., Bohensky, Erin, Nakamura, Nao, Pert, Petina L., and Claudet, Joachim (2021) Convergence of stakeholders' environmental threat perceptions following mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. Conservation Biology, 35 (2). pp. 598-609.

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Managing human use of ecosystems in an era of rapid environmental change requires an understanding of diverse stakeholders' behaviors and perceptions to enable effective prioritization of actions to mitigate multiple threats. Specifically, research examining how threat perceptions are shared or diverge among stakeholder groups and how these can evolve through time is increasingly important. We investigated environmental threat perceptions related to Australia's Great Barrier Reef and explored their associations before and after consecutive years of mass coral bleaching. We used data from surveys of commercial fishers, tourism operators, and coastal residents (n = 5254) conducted in 2013 and 2017. Threats perceived as most serious differed substantially among groups before bleaching but were strongly aligned after bleaching. Climate change became the most frequently reported threat by all stakeholder groups following the coral bleaching events, and perceptions of fishing and poor water quality as threats also ranked high. Within each of the 3 stakeholder groups, fishers, tourism operators, and coastal residents, the prioritization of these 3 threats tended to diverge in 2013, but convergence occurred after bleaching. These results indicate an emergence of areas of agreement both within and across stakeholder groups. Changes in perceptions were likely influenced by high-profile environmental-disturbance events and media representations of threats. Our results provide insights into the plasticity of environmental-threat perceptions and highlight how their convergence in response to major events may create new opportunities for strategic public engagement and increasing support for management.

Item ID: 64946
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1523-1739
Keywords: attitudes, climate change coastal communities, environmental change, Great Barrier Reef, media, public perceptions, risk assessment
Copyright Information: © 2020 Society for Conservation Biology
Funders: National Environment Research Program (NERP), Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub (2011-2015), ANR-141CE03-0001-01, NOAA Grant NA14NES4320003
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 07:39
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410103 Human impacts of climate change and human adaptation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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