Environmental Education and Advocacy: A Complementary Strategy for Rural Development and Conservation

The two mountains theory and its slogan “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” have been promoted in China for 15 years. This slogan aims to increase social perception of ecosystem services, promote the achievement of sustainable development goals, and has increased individual knowledge and awareness of environmental conservation under local community policy initiatives.

In a study published in Sustainability, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences tried to uncover how local people are driven to engage in habitat conservation, so as to provide realistic recommendation and coordination for building environmentally sustainable rural communities.

By combining the policy-based two mountains theory, questionnaire contents relating to ecosystem services, and the theory of planned behavior model, the researchers conducted an interview and survey-based assessment of the local villagers’ willingness to engage in conservation behavior in rural towns, in Xishuangbanna tropical area of ​​China.

The results indicated that villagers had a basic understanding of the two mountains perceptions and tended to possess their willingness, due to the slogan advocacy with nature conservation perceptions over the past 15 years, as well as the impact of village traditional culture.

The researchers confirmed that external factors such as education and advocacy had an impact on individuals’ knowledge components and further influenced their willingness to conserve nature. The willingness was directly influenced by external factors and indirectly influenced by individuals’ perceived abilities through attitudes toward ecosystem services.

“To improve the accumulation of conservation knowledge, environmental education and science advocacy should be locally incorporated into rural communities. We therefore propose that considering public environmental education and environmental advocacy can be a complementary strategy for rural development and conservation, ”said BAI Yang of XTBG.

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