Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Kelsi Furman, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA
Urbanization negatively impacts ecosystems, resulting in the loss of ecosystem services. Furthermore, urbanization can decouple social and biological systems. As coastal development continues to reduce natural shorelines, it is vital to understand the values, beliefs, and decision-­making of local residents to achieve sustainability in this social-­ecological system. Rural communities typically are more knowledgeable and concerned about local environmental issues than most residents in urban areas. Furthermore, there is strong evidence for a connection between environmental values, concern, and pro-­environmental behaviors. Here, we aim to determine how urbanization impacts societal views toward coastal shorelines with a particular emphasis on coastal habitats, their restoration, and sustainability. After surveying coastal residents in the Northeastern United States, we documented largely consistent positive views on the importance of natural habitats along shorelines. All communities acknowledged the value of shorelines for the economy, fish populations, water quality, and family values. However, satisfaction derived from shoreline services such as bird watching, boating, swimming, and scenery was higher in rural than in urban communities. Meanwhile, urban residents felt that more should be done to restore natural shorelines than rural residents. We revealed how urbanization influences residents’ views on shoreline conditions and the need for restoration. Collectively, these results indicate substantial public concern and support for habitat conservation in both urban and rural settings. However, the decreased recreational satisfaction in urban areas also highlights potential social consequences of urbanization pressures on coastal habitats. Integrating these lessons into conservation and management initiatives could enable greater support, participation, and social outcomes.