Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fewer Hikers Means Less Support For Conservation, Study Says

Date:
October 9, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
Hikers and backpackers tend to become supporters of environmental and conservation groups while casual woodland tourists do not, a new study says -- and a recent fall-off in strenuous outdoor endeavors portends a coming decline in the ranks of conservation backers.

Serious hikers and backpackers tend to become supporters of environmental and conservation groups while casual woodland tourists do not, a new study says -- and a recent fall-off in strenuous outdoor endeavors portends a coming decline in the ranks of conservation backers.

Oliver Pergams, visiting research assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Patricia Zaradic, director of the Red Rock Institute in Pennsylvania, made headlines in early 2008 with a study showing that a steady decline in nature recreation since the late 1980s correlated strongly with a rise in playing video games, surfing the Internet and watching movies -- an unhealthy trend they called "videophilia."

Now Pergams and Zaradic, along with Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, have found that only people who engage in vigorous outdoor sports, like hiking and backpacking, tend later to become supporters of mainline conservation groups, while those who only go sightseeing or fishing do not. Their findings are reported Oct. 7 in PLoS ONE, an online publication of the Public Library of Science.

The researchers found that the amount of time one spent hiking or backpacking in nature correlated with a willingness, 11 to 12 years later, to financially support any of four representative conservation organizations: the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club or Environmental Defense. The typical backpacker gave $200 to $300 per year, after the dozen-year lag.

"For the first time, we've shown a direct correlation between outdoor recreation and investment in conservation, and we know what types of outdoor activity are most likely to lead to conservation investment," Zaradic said.

Surprisingly, the more time one spent fishing or sightseeing in natural areas, the less likely that person was to support these particular conservation causes.

"Apparently not all outdoor recreation is equal in terms of who is going to be an investor in conservation," Zaradic said.

The researchers conclude that there are effectively "two Americas" when it comes to nature exposure and support for conservation. Environmental groups depend on a very narrow base of support from elite, active outdoor enthusiasts -- a group that is predominantly white, college-educated, higher income, and over 35.

"There's a much broader market -- more diverse and urban -- that can be tapped by conservation organizations," Zaradic said. "Those groups haven't been spoken to in a way that attracts them."

Pergams agrees the finding is a wake-up call to environmental groups that their base is shrinking, as giving can be predicted to fall during the next decade with the decline in hiking and backpacking since their popularity peaked from 1998 to 2000.

Also boding ill for the conservation groups is an economic study Pergams published in 2004 that showed that support for conservation depends on the broader economy and can be predicted by GDP and personal income. Pergams is concerned that the current economic crisis will add to the conservationists' woes caused by declines in hiking over the past dozen years.

"It's a 'perfect storm' of lower personal and corporate income resulting in less conservation support, compounded by effects from the past decline in hiking and backpacking," he said. "It's tough times ahead."

Pergams says the key to conservation awareness and support is to reach children early with broad-based educational programs that introduce them to vigorous outdoor recreation.

"If you never get out into nature, you're not going to care about it when you get older," Pergams said. "The kids are where it's at, and we're losing our kids to other influences -- they don't go outside."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Fewer Hikers Means Less Support For Conservation, Study Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006201352.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2009, October 9). Fewer Hikers Means Less Support For Conservation, Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006201352.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Fewer Hikers Means Less Support For Conservation, Study Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006201352.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins