Perception and decisions in modeling coupled human and natural systems: A case study from Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China


Wandersee, Sarah; An, Li; Lopez-Carr, David; Yang, Yeqin

Journal or Book Title: Ecological Modelling

Keywords: guizhou golden monkey; environmental perception; modeling decision-making; coupled human and natural systems; endangered species conservation; protected areas management

Volume/Issue: 229/March 24, 2012

Page Number(s): 37-49

Year Published: 2012


Modeling human–environment systems presents many challenges, including incorporating structure and agency and addressing uncertainty in system components and relationships. Exploring perceptions not only gives us insight into decision-making (agency) but also reveals structural constraints influencing those decisions (including perceived constraints). This study focuses on the human–nature dynamics of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in China, a biodiversity hotspot and the only habitat for the Guizhou golden monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi). The monkey is endangered and increasingly threatened by growing human activity and development but is also affected by changing habitat through reforestation programs. This research aims to understand how human demographics, a recent reforestation program (Grain-to-Green), land use, livelihood, and perception of conservation may affect local people's perception of human impact on the environment. This perception underlies many land use decisions yet is not uniformly shared among FNNR inhabitants. Using logistic regression, the data from a 263-household survey conducted in the spring of 2010 were analyzed. The results indicate the Grain-to-Green Program participation is insignificantly related to perception of human environmental impact. However, personal observation of the golden monkey is vital to locals reporting an enhanced appreciation for potential human environmental impacts. Other significant factors predicting sensitivity to human environmental impacts include having heard of climate change, interest in tourism entrepreneurship, current worries of food security, viewing FNNR regulations as restrictive, income source, and fuelwood consumption. Results suggest the importance of examining environmental perception for a more integrated understanding of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS).

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.08.004

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Publisher: Elsevier