Pluralistic valuations of nature: Mixed-methods research with communities around protected areas in Alaska
Understanding the diverse values of nature is crucial to advancing conservation on public lands. My dissertation engaged residents surrounding protected areas across Interior Alaska, U.S.A. to understand how they interacted with nature and made decisions for environmental policy and practice. I uncovered ‘place meanings' through in-depth interviews and found that wildlife were integral to the various reasons why residents developed connections with places. My research also drew from a regional household survey and showed that the values of communal cohesion among subsistence users energized their environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviors, whereas non-users were driven by values for pristine nature. Finally, I developed a decision support tool to communicate findings from a stated choice experiment that was combined with attitudinal data for scenario planning in the Denali region. These findings build theoretical knowledge of how people think, feel and act in relation to the natural world, as well as provide insights for practitioners to foster equitable and just natural resource planning.