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International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management 2 (2006) 343–349 The problem of spatial scale when studying the human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden 1 2 3 Göran Ericsson , Camilla Sandström and Göran Bostedt Department of Animal Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden Department of Political Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden Department of Forest Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden Key words: Scale, sampling, natural resource conflict, wolves, carnivores SUMMARY Some surveys are performed at a spatial scale that hides the core of the problem. This is not a trivial problem if local members of the public and more distant respondents disagree over a certain issue. We contrast a Swedish national, proportional survey with corresponding regional and local surveys. We use three survey questions about wolves to illustrate the risk of extrapolation from proportional national surveys to areas where human and nature conservation issues are in conflict. As attitudes towards large carni- vores generally tend to be favourable amongst the general public, but negative amongst those most likely to be adversely affected, surveys performed at a too large a spatial scale do not capture the problem or reveal disagreements between local and general public. This could lead to a conceptual mismatch between the spatial scales of, first, the natural resource problem and, second¸ human population sampling. Our study in the mountain region of northern Sweden illustrates biases potentially introduced to controversial issues tied to local problems by using proportional national surveys. We suggest over-sampling in problem areas contrasted with proportional regional/national sampling, or proportional sampling matching the scale of problem, to identify the driving mechanisms and related variables. INTRODUCTION For guidance on many controversial issues, manag- survey methodology, is often that ‘the people living ers and scientists often turn to the general public to close to the issue were not asked about their ask for their opinion. Data collection and subse- opinion’. In many cases, as surveys sample only the quent reporting of the results are often followed by general population, the criticism might thus be a rather heated debate of ‘who should have been highly relevant (e.g. Williams et al. 2002). Thus, sur- included in the study’. A central argument, brought veys might be performed at a spatial scale that does forward by the critics of both the results and the not capture the core of the problem or discover Correspondence: Göran Ericsson, Department of Animal Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 343 Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. disagreements between local people and the general problem of scale when studying human dimensions public at a regional or national scale. This is not a of natural resource conflict. The problem of scale is trivial problem, especially if there is a clash between normally displayed in two ways. First, the metrics local and national levels over a certain issue, such as can differ at different scales. For instance, there how to distribute the costs for the reintroduction of can be high support for wolves in a general national large carnivores among the different levels. If people survey but a significantly different level of support at one level perceive that the distribution of costs is on the regional/state and local levels. Second, unequally divided among the levels, it may under- when analysing the proposed causal mechanisms mine the legitimacy and effectiveness of manage- between the dependent variable (e.g. per cent in ment and thus negatively affect the policy goals set favour) and the independent variables derived by governments. from the literature (e.g. rural, experience, knowl- A key issue to this problem is thus to understand edge and socio-demographic – such as age, gender the spatial scale of the problem versus the spatial and income), the qualitative outcome might be scale of human population sampling. This paper is a different. The latter was apparent in the findings case study of attitudes towards the rebounding popu- of Ericsson and Heberlein (2003) which suggested lation of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Sweden. Normally, that relying on proportional national sampling, large quantitative attitude surveys towards wolves when the natural resource conflict is primarily worldwide show that most of the general population local, might undermine the possibilities for state is in favour of wolves and other large carnivores agencies to manage the resource effectively. This (Williams et al. 2002). Sweden and wolves are no paper tests this conclusion using three questions exception to these findings. Previous research has about wolves as a case study of a natural resource shown that, at a national level, a majority of Swedes conflict in the mountain region in Sweden, con- are in favour of the decisions made to ensure the trasting three different spatial scales: the munici- long-term survival of the wolves (Ericsson and pality (local scale), six Swedish counties in the Heberlein 2003; Heberlein and Ericsson 2005). north (the regional scale), and the general Swedish Recent survey work indicates that these attitudes are population (the national scale). not embraced by all Swedes; significant minorities, and in some municipalities even majorities (espe- METHOD cially in peripheral regions with a high density of large carnivores), hold traditional values emphasis- We use a central dimension of people’s attitude ing predator control (Ericsson et al. 2004). towards wolves, such as the acceptance of the goal Official data on populations of carnivores are set for the wolf population size, to contrast the provided by the Swedish monitoring programme national, regional and local scales. The wolf is for large carnivores and the national carnivore chosen as our sample species as wolves in many database (Naturvårdsverket 2005; Jägareförbundet areas seem to be the principal driver in people’s 2005). At the time of the survey (spring 2004), there attitudes towards large carnivores in general were about 70 wolves (national goal > 200), > 1000 (Sharpe et al. 2001). Using a mail survey, we bears (Ursus arctos) (1000), 1200 European lynx sampled 150 persons in each local municipality in (Lynx lynx) (1500) and 360 wolverines (Gulo gulo) addition to a national sample. In total, we surveyed (575) in Sweden, which has an area of 450,000 km . more than 11,000 people from 69 municipalities in According to the official data, these four large six counties (Dalarna, Gävleborg, Västernorrland, carnivores are unevenly distributed within Jämtland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten), including a Sweden and within the six counties which we national sample of 1067 with an overall response over-sampled at the municipality level (see below). rate of 66% (Ericsson et al. 2006). In 2000, 7,465,000 (84%) of all Swedes lived in The first question in the survey was. ‘In the spring 1936 urban localities with a total area of 5227 km , of 2001 the Swedish parliament decided how many large corresponding to 1.3% of Sweden’s land area (SCB carnivores we should have in Sweden. The first goals were 2005). In the northern parts of Sweden, about set to the number of reproducing females which correspond 67% of the people live in urban localities. to at least 1000 brown bears, 1500 lynx, 400 wolverines This paper analyses three questions about wolves and to 200 wolves. What is your opinion about the goals and large carnivore management to illustrate the set by the parliament for large carnivores in Sweden? (Per 344 International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. species)? Should it be Reduced a lot, Somewhat reduced, negative towards meeting the national wolf popula- Acceptable, Somewhat increased, or Increased a lot?’ tion goal (r = −0.14, p < 0.0001, n = 6989). There The second question illustrates the problem of was also a negative correlation between those scale, and uses people’s willingness to pay. The favouring carnivore management by local people respondents were asked whether they personally and those willing to pay to meet the goals were willing to pay anything at all (Kriström 1997) (r = −0.04, p = 0.0014, n = 6989). There was a to reach the national goals set by the Swedish parlia- strong positive correlation between the attitudes to ment for wolves: ‘Would you at all be willing to reduce the goal set for national wolf population and peo- your other expenses to reach the national goal (No, Yes)?’ ple’s willingness to pay to reach it (r = 0.46, As this question tries to captures a behavioural p < 0.0001, n = 6989). intention, we hypothesise lower support compared to the first attitude question. The third sample question illustrates the prob- Attitudes to the national wolf population lem of scale, and uses support for management by goal local people to test for differences among local, At the national scale, given that this would have regional and national scales. This question pro- been a representative proportional survey, 15% vides the opportunity to find out whether or not of Swedes say that the goal for wolves should be Swedes want local management with regard to large carnivores. The extent to which regional and local actors should have a say in the management of large Table 1 Quantitative data on negative attitudes carnivores is a contested issue in the Swedish parlia- towards the national wolf population goal, the support ment as well as among interest groups. Our hypo- for willingness to pay at all for reaching the national thesis is that we may see the same pattern in this goal, and the support for management of large carni- question as in the other two sample questions; i.e. vores by local people for the three spatial sampling when we move away from the local scale we should scales. On the municipality scale, 9 of 69 communities observe less correlation with local conditions, such illustrate the quantitative outcome as in the occurrence of carnivores. The question Negative was: ‘Who should be involved in the management of the attitude Positive large carnivores?’ Local people were one of 16 listed towards Willing to local options. population to pay management First, we calculated the marginal distribution Scale goal (%) (%) (%) for each question to identify any differences in National terms of percentage support among levels, i.e. Sweden 15 32 66 quantitative differences. To explore for any qualita- tive differences among levels, we calculated stand- Regional ardised multiple regression coefficients to estimate Dalarna 32 30 73 Jämtland 28 27 75 the relative strength of relationship among vari- Gävleborg 26 31 72 ables in the model (Alwin and Hauser 1975; Asher Västerbotten 22 29 70 1983). We used regression analysis (Kleinbaum Västernorrland 20 33 66 et al. 1987; SAS Institute 1989) and the best model Norrbotten 19 29 66 was chosen on the basis of partial F tests (Kleinbaum et al. 1987). We entered and tested all variables Municipality manually. All statistical analyses were performed Malung 59 18 83 Älvdalen 57 17 82 with the SAS-statistical package (Version 8, SAS Orsa 52 23 75 Institute 1989). Ovanåker 51 16 80 Mora 47 18 80 Härjedalen 44 20 76 RESULTS Vansbro 44 16 71 At the national scale, there was generally a negative Ljusdal 43 22 89 correlation between those favouring carnivore Bjurholm 42 19 84 management by local people and those more International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management 345 Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. reduced somewhat or a lot (Table 1). Moving down or found remains of predated animals) have the to the six counties, using survey data weighted to be strongest negative influence on the result, and that proportionally representative for each county, a all factors with negative relationships are relatively higher proportion would like to see the population stronger than the positive factors – apart from goals reduced (32–19% disapproval), although gender (Table 2). At the regional scale (i.e. propor- there is a considerable variation between regions. tional sampling on the regional scale), the quantita- Moving down to the lowest spatial scale – munici- tive outcome is the same (Table 2; r adj = 11.3 %), palities – many of the 69 municipalities have an with the same factors influencing the model. How- even higher proportion of respondents opposing ever, moving down to the local scale, the more the national goals for wolves (Figure 1). A visual specific variables of experience – such as wolves or inspection of Figure 1 suggests that an uneven geo- bears present in the municipality and personal graphical pattern exists, indicating differences experience of hearing and seeing (‘positive experi- among the national, regional and local levels, i.e. ence’) large carnivores – now emerge as negatively the metrics in terms of percentage support differ influencing attitudes towards the wolf population among the levels. goal (Table 2; r adj = 12.7%). Possible differences in the qualitative outcome In conclusion, there is a drastic change in of the analyses of the causal relationships at the support for the population goal for wolves when different scales were then explored. At the national we contrast the metrics at the national scale scale, there is a relationship with attitudes towards (15% disapproval) with the regional scale (19–32% the wolf population goal and seven variables: four disapproval). However, the largest differences socio-demographic and three personal experience emerge when we contrast the local level with variables (Table 2; r adj = 12.0%). The standard- the national scale. In the most negative communi- ised regression coefficients show that age and pre- ties with large carnivores present, 42–59% dis- dation experience (i.e. loss of domestic animals approved of the national goal for wolves set by the Swedish parliament. Surprisingly, the qualitative outcome did not differ much among the three scales, with one important exception. At the local level, there was a negative relationship between acceptance of the population goal and the pres- ence of wolves and bears where people lived. Thus, we can not disregard that one driver at the local scale behind people’s attitudes is experiences derived from the presence of wolves and bears – as suggested by Figure 1 and confirmed by our analyses. Willingness to pay – a behavioural Proportion objecting the national goal for wolf intention Percentage objecting At the national scale, given that the survey would - 20 20 - 30 have been a nationally representative proportional 30 - 40 40 - 50 survey, 32% of Swedes would have been personally 50 - willing to pay to reach the national goal for the wolf population (Table 1). Moving down to the six counties, representative surveys at the regional level range show willingness to pay between 29 and 33% (Table 1). Thus, the national and regional proportional sampling produce the same quan- titative answer, and are in agreement. However, going down to the local level, as exemplified by Figure 1 Proportion of respondents disapproving the national goals for wolves set by the Swedish parliament the municipalities scoring most negatively, the 346 International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. Table 2 Standardised multiple regression coefficients among the independent variables in relation to the depend- ent variables on the three spatial scales Attitude towards national wolf Behavioural intention WTP wolves Local management of population goal (yes/no) large carnivores National Regional Local National Regional Local National Regional Local 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 r adj r adj r adj r adj r adj r adj r adj r adj r adj = 12.0% = 11.3% = 12.7% = 23.2% = 25.1% = 25.0% = 4.0% = 5.1% = 6.0% Attitude towards ***0.40 ***0.41 ***0.44 ***−0.11 ***−0.14 ***−0.14 population goal Hear, see *−0.04 ***0.06 ***0.06 **0.04 ***0.08 ***0.10 ***0.11 experience Predation ***−17 ***−17 ***−18 experience Carnivore ***0.07 ***0.05 ***0.07 ***0.12 ***0.12 ***0.09 ***0.09 ***0.10 ***0.10 knowledge No. carnivores ***−0.09 ***−0.05 present Bear present *−0.03 **−0.03 *−0.02 ***0.05 *0.02 Wolves present ***−0.07 *0.02 Age ***−0.25 ***−0.22 ***−0.24 ***−0.08 ***−0.10 ***−0.07 ***−0.10 ***−0.11 ***−0.10 Urban living ***0.06 ***0.08 ***0.07 ***0.06 ***0.06 ***0.05 (> 10,000) Female **−0.04 **−0.04 *−0.03 *0.03 *0.02 *−0.03 Educational level **0.04 ***0.07 ***0.05 ***0.11 ***0.09 ***0.10 **−0.02 **−0.05 Income level **−0.03 **−0.04 **−0.04 *Significant at p < 0.05; **significant at p < 0.001; ***significant at p < 0.0001 willingness to pay drops to 16–23% (Table 1). How- Attitudes to the management of large ever, an important observation is that a minority carnivores of all respondents at all levels actually were willing At the national scale, support for local people to to pay – which is in contrast to the attitude item be involved in the management of large carnivores analysed above. is fairly high (66%). However, more than one-third In the analysis, we controlled for the respon- of the national sample is of another opinion, which dents’ attitudes towards the population goals for indicates, as we assumed, that the issue is contested. wolves in the causal model (Table 1). The national As with the other two questions, when moving down model explained 23.2%, the regional model to the regional scale and using survey data repre- 25.1%, and the local model 25.0%. Again, the sentative for each county, in four of the six counties qualitative outcome did not differ much at the an even higher proportion would like to involve three levels. The major difference is that, at local people in the management of large carni- the local scale, the presence of wolves and bears – vores. Moving down to the lowest spatial scale – the i.e. experience – enters the models, and that municipality – support for local management by importance of attitude increases while that of age the people living in the areas with large carnivores decreases. Thus, as suggested by Figure 2, even increases even more: to as much as 89% (Table 1). when we controlled for the respondents’ attitude The problem of scale is thus apparent also in this towards the wolf population goal, our analysis of case, although the evidence is not as strong as in the second survey question confirms an effect the other two cases. of large carnivore presence at the local scale Attitudes to the density of carnivores, experience which was not captured in the national, representa- and age are variables that influence attitudes to the tive survey. International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management 347 Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. DISCUSSION This paper has analysed the importance of spatial scale when studying preferences concerning con- tested natural resource issues. To exemplify this, we have used data from an extensive mail survey in Sweden which included questions concerning preferences for large carnivores. The survey used a stratified sampling procedure to enable us to capture local preferences in municipalities in ‘carnivore-rich’ areas, since we hypothesised that they would be poorly represented by a standard general population survey. As shown by the results, our hypothesis was correct. Using three questions about preferences concerning wolves – one ques- tion measuring the attitude towards the govern- ment population goal, one testing the behavioural intention of willingness to pay anything at all for wolves, and one concerning support for manage- ment by local people – considerable differences appear between the spatial scales. The results thus illustrate the bias that can be introduced in contro- versial issues tied to local problems when local over-sampling is not used in general, proportional, national surveys. In essence, the spatial scale of such surveys can hide the core of the problem or fail to discover disagreements among local people and the general public. This is not a trivial problem if Figure 2 Per cent positive in the 69 communities in local members of the public disagree over a certain the six regions who were willing to pay (‘yes’ answer) issue with more distant citizens. anything at all to increase the number of wolves. Open One methodological conclusion is that, when circles indicate breeding wolf packs at the time of the there is a theoretical rationale to assume spatial study 2004 dependence across observations, the appropriate involvement of local people in management. As scaleneedstobeused. Otherwise, if thescalesdonot expected, in general, those who want to lower the match, work by managers and scientists intended to target goals are more positive towards the involve- solve controversies between people and nature ment of local people in management than those resource use may, instead, worsen the conflicts. who are in favour of the target goals or even a Once accurately represented, the question becomes: higher number of carnivores than the goals set by how to design and implement resource manage- the government. However, the relatively low degree ment to take local preferences into account? of model fit (4–6%) clearly indicates that other vari- Although a full account of this complex issue falls ables than, for example, traditional socio-economic beyond the scope of this paper, various attempts to variables might better explain attitudes to who involve local or regional stakeholders in the manage- should be involved in the management of large ment process, in particular transactional or co- carnivores. These variables could, for example, be management approaches, have proven successful trust in other people, in politicians and authorities. in legitimising wildlife management (Decker et al. A possible conclusion is that the relatively positive 2001). We therefore suggest that a key ingredient attitudes at all levels to local involvement in the for success in wildlife management is to design a management of large carnivores show recognition management process which incorporates different of this issue as a local task, so that local people spatial scales, including the local scale, into the should be included in such management. management of large carnivores. 348 International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management Human dimensions of a natural resource conflict: humans and wolves in Sweden Ericsson et al. Finally, we strongly encourage over-sampling in quantitative support. It is equally important to test if areas with a conflict or a potential problem not only there for causal differences which depend on the to capture potential differences in terms of scale of sampling. REFERENCES Alwin DF and Hauser RM. The decomposition of Jägareförbundet (The Swedish Association for effects in path analysis. 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International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management – Taylor & Francis
Published: Dec 1, 2006
Keywords: SCALE; SAMPLING; NATURAL RESOURCE CONFLICT; WOLVES; CARNIVORES
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