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Optimizing biodiversity protection projects: A problem on various scales

  • The decline of biodiversity can be observed worldwide and its consequences are alarming. It is therefore crucial that nature must be protected and, where possible, restored. A wide variety of different project options are possible. Yet in the context of limited availability of resources, the selection of the most efficient measures is increasingly important. For this purpose, there is still a lack of information. This pertains, as outlined in the next paragraph, in particular, to information at different scales of projects. Firstly, there is a lack of information on the concrete added value of biodiversity protection projects. Secondly, there is a lack of information on the actual impacts of such projects and on the costs and benefits associated with a project. Finally, there is a lack of information on the links between the design of a project, the associated framework conditions and the perception of specific impacts. This paper addresses this knowledge gap by providing more information on the three scales by means of three empirical studies on three different biodiversity protection projects in order to help optimize future projects. The first study “Assessing the trade-offs in more nature-friendly mosquito control in the Upper Rhine region” examines the added value of a more nature-friendly mosquito control in the Upper Rhine Valley of Germany using a contingent valuation method. Recent studies show that the widely used biocide Bti, which is used as the main mosquito control agent in many parts of the world, has more negative effects on nature than previously expected. However, it is not yet clear whether the population supports a more nature-friendly mosquito control, as such an adaptation could potentially lead to higher nuisance. This study attempts to answer this question by assessing the willingness to pay for an adapted mosquito control strategy that reduces the use of Bti, while maintaining nuisance protection within settlements. The results show that the majority of the surveyed population attaches a high value to a more nature-friendly mosquito control and is willing to accept a higher nuisance outside of the villages. The second study “Inner city river restoration projects: the role of project components for acceptance” examines the acceptance of a river restoration project in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Despite much effort, many rivers worldwide are still in poor condition. Therefore, a rapid implementation of river restoration projects is of great importance. In this context, acceptance by society plays a fundamental role, however, the factors determining such acceptance are still poorly understood. In particular, the complex interplay between the acceptance or rejection of specific project components and the acceptance of the overall project require further exploration. This study addresses this knowledge gap by assessing the acceptance of the project, its various ecological and social components, and the perception of real and fictitious costs as well as the benefits of the components. Our findings demonstrate that while acceptance of the overall project is generally rather high, many respondents reject one or more of the project's components. Complementary social project components, like a playground, find less support than purely ecological components. Overall, our research shows that complementary components may increase or decrease acceptance of the overall project. We, furthermore, found that differences in the acceptance of the individual components depend on individual concerns, such as perceived flood risk, construction costs, expected noise and littering as well as the quality of communication, attachment to the site, and the age of the respondents. The third study “What determines preferences for semi-natural habitats in agrarian landscapes? A choice-modelling approach across two countries using attributes characterizing vegetation” investigates people's aesthetic preferences for semi-natural habitats in agricultural landscapes. The EU-Common Agricultural Policy promotes the introduction of woody and grassy semi-natural habitats (SNH) in agricultural landscapes. While the benefits of these structures in terms of regulating ecosystem services are already well understood, the effects of SNH on visual landscape quality is still not clear. This study investigates the factors determining people’s visual preferences in the context of grassy and woody SNH elements in Swiss and Hungarian landscapes using picture-based choice experiments. The results suggest that respondents’ choices strongly depend on specific vegetation characteristics that appear and disappear over the year. In particular, flowers as a source of colours and green vegetation as well as ordered structure and the proportion of uncovered soil in the picture play an important role regarding respondents’ aesthetic perceptions of the pictures. The three empirical studies can help to make future projects in the study areas of biodiversity protection more efficient. While this thesis highlights the importance of exploring biodiversity protection projects at different scales, further analyses of the different scales of biodiversity protection projects are needed to provide a sound basis to develop guidance on identifying the most efficient biodiversity protection projects.

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Author:Sören Bo Weiß
Referee:Oliver Frör, Tobias Börger
Advisor:Oliver Frör
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2022/09/06
Date of publication:2022/09/09
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 7
Date of final exam:2022/08/30
Release Date:2022/09/09
GND Keyword:Biodiversität
Number of pages:x, 96 Seiten
Institutes:Fachbereich 7 / Institut für Umweltwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG