SOCIAT includes a structured questionnaire with a number of easy to follow questions capturing perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of local communities in protected areas. The questionnaire, grounded on key theories of environmental sociology and psychology, is the result of a collaboration between researchers and practitioners interested in finding new ways to capture social impacts of protected areas.
From the impact on personal income to mental health SOCIAT captures the most important benefits and costs that the protected area has on locals
Values, social norms and demographics are assessed via SOCIAT to allow practitioners to understand how the local social profile influences the level of support for the protected area and perceptions of social impacts
What are the main pathways to increase engagement with locals? A key question that SOCIAT aims to address
SOCIAT captures the level of public support for the PA and explores how the level of support translates into pro-environmental behaviour.
Effective designation of Protected Areas requires the careful consideration of their social impacts as these are perceived by people. Influenced by the widely used definition of the International Association of Impact Assessment IASA (IASA, 2019) we define social impacts of PAs as the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, which occur because of the designation of a PA and any social change processes invoked by a Protected Area. SOCIAT focuses on 6 main categories of social impacts (livelihood, human rights, local culture, social relations, wellbeing and knowledge). By exploring these different impacts park authorities will be able to identify the level of social impacts, how these are distributed across different stakeholders and also how these impacts are distributed across different geographical areas.
There is growing evidence that local social characteristics influence significantly the management of protected areas. In SOCIAT we capture aspects of local social capital including social norms of reciprocity, socio-environmental values, place attachment and demographic characteristics. By exploring these aspects SOCIAT provides park authorities with essential information in order to understand the local context within which perceptions about the protected area are created and identify ways to increase benefits for local communities and promote positive public engagement.
Aspects of governance are also considered an important indicators of social effectiveness of PAs. Trust for management authorities is key in understanding public support for environmental policies linked strongly with issues of transparency in PA management. Similarly, the level of engagement with key stakeholders and the ability to support a PA through different opportunities is also expected to influence the level of support for PAs. Attitudes of the public towards the governance system are explored via SOCIAT with a number of questions capturing both the level of empowerment and trust in organisations responsible for the management of the PA.
Attitudes of the public towards the Protected Area are explored via SOCIAT with a number of questions capturing both attitude and active support. Participants are initially asked whether they agree with the existence of the Protected Area in order to capture levels of attitude support. Several questions regarding their behaviour when using the PA are also included in the questionnaire.
The questionnaire has been translated to 12 languages:
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