Title: Exploring public awareness of threats to the Great Barrier Reef environment

Authors: Gianna Moscardo

Addresses: School of Business, James Cook University, Cairns Mail Centre, Cairns 4870, Queensland, Australia

Abstract: A key element in understanding public support for environmental conservation is awareness and understanding of the relevant environmental threats. This paper will present the results of an eight year research program including surveys of residents living adjacent to, and visitors to, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia and content analyses of media coverage of this protected area. The paper uses social representations theory to analyse and link these two data sets. The research critically examined the relationships between characteristics of the survey respondents, actual visitation to the area, perceived threats to this environment and overall attitudes towards the environmental health and conservation needs of the GBR. The results indicated that respondent perceptions of threats were influenced by media coverage, but this media coverage was problematic in a number of ways. In addition, further analysis of the survey data found that key user groups held different and conflicting social representations of the environmental status and threats to the GBR, and these social representations included perceptions of threats to the GBR that did not match the situation as presented by the protected area managers.

Keywords: public awareness; environmental threats; Great Barrier Reef; environmental impact; Australia; content analysis; media coverage; environmental protection; social representations theory; public perceptions; public attitudes; environmental health; environmental conservation.

DOI: 10.1504/IER.2008.053961

Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, 2008 Vol.10 No.1/2, pp.45 - 64

Available online: 13 May 2013

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