Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor's Name

Joel T. Heinen

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ligia Collado-Vides

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

David B. Bray

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

Protected Areas, National Wildlife Refuge, Military to Wildlife Conversion, Attitudes, Percpetions, Social Science, Knowledge, Awareness, Park-People Conflicts, Environmental Studies

Date of Defense

3-31-2016

Abstract

Conflicts between local people and protected areas can undermine conservation goals. This study explores perceptions towards Vieques National Wildlife Refuge (VNWR), a complex former military site containing a combination of high ecological value along with an array of unexploded ordnances. The purpose of this research is to evaluate how residents perceive VNWR and elucidate conflicts associated with former and current uses of the wildlife refuge. Here, I interviewed 235 residents of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico using semi-structured surveys and 33 key informants representing various stakeholder groups to assess attitudes toward VNWR.

A combination of factors influencing attitudes about VNWR included socio-economic status and misconceptions about management. Overall, residents did not express strong attitudes. However, older individuals and those living longer on Vieques generally had poorer attitudes than others. Among the most common reasons for expressing discontent were the restrictive regulations regarding access to VNWR and the limitations on resource extraction.

Identifier

FIDC000290

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