Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Natural Resources

Major Professor

Adam S. Willcox

Committee Members

Donald Hodges, Bruce Tonn, Robert Jones

Abstract

World conservation issues have been addressed in many ways around the world. The use of community-based conservation (CBC) as a method to reduce harmful practices has gained in popularity in the past few decades. This dissertation reports results from a pre-analysis of a proposed CBC program in western Belize. Through qualitative interviews with 47 stakeholders, and a quantitative survey with 486 Belizean women, we determined that a CBC program designed especially for women should be successful. Some of the aspects of a program that women expressed a desire for was more conservation and forest education. However, contrary to our assumption that women would require an income to participate, we found that it was a matter of needing free time and gaining some education that would influence their increased participation. Additionally, the Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) is a scale that is widely used around the world to determine a person’s feelings of being in connection to nature. It has been positively correlated with well-being, environmentally-friendly behaviors, and a person’s contact with nature. We used this scale to determine if the greater contact with nature that people in Belize experience every day, compared to developed countries, would have an effect on their CNS scores. Therefore, we administered the CNS to women in Belize to determine if there was a difference between people’s feelings of connectedness to nature in developing countries, where residents have extensive daily contact with nature, and in developed countries where the majority of residents have limited contact with nature. It was found that feelings of connectedness to nature are greater in Belizean women compared to 58 other study populations living in developed areas around the world. Our results have many implications for conservation group developers in that they point to the need for pre-assessments of programs to help uncover key aspects that need to be included and to identify program aspects that are not necessary for its success.

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