A global analysis of coral reef conservation preferences

Coral reefs and many associated fish populations may cease to exist by the end of the century without additional long-term strategic conservation effort. This paper examines the willingness of the general public to pay for global coral and reef fish conservation in 12 countries of varying income and tropical reef proximity. We analyse preferences for several conservation measures, as well as the impact of individual-specific characteristics and preferences on conservation demand. Moreover, the role of scarcity in shaping this demand is explored. Overall, our findings suggest that preferences of the general public are not well aligned with coral reef conservation measures that are likely to be effective over time. Individuals are more willing to act to save reefs when they are in serious decline than when they are in moderate decline. They also prefer hands-on restoration measures in certain countries, which empirically have been shown to have varying rates of success, over expanding marine protected areas and strengthening legislation. We further find that conservation demand is highest in sampled countries where income is low. On the basis of these results, we draw key implications for policymaking decisions.

Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and stricter hygiene) and endorsed public policy interventions (e.g., closing bars and restaurants) during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic (April-May 2020). Respondents who reported identifying more strongly with their nation consistently reported greater engagement in public health behaviours and support for public health policies. Results were similar for representative and non-representative national samples. Study 2 (N = 42 countries) conceptually replicated the central finding using aggregate indices of national identity (obtained using the World Values Survey) and a measure of actual behaviour change during the pandemic (obtained from Google mobility reports). Higher levels of national identification prior to the pandemic predicted lower mobility during the early stage of the pandemic (r = −0.40). We discuss the potential implications of links between national identity, leadership, and public health for managing COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Introduction

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