Public understanding of protected area designation

Josephine E. Booth, Kevin J. Gaston, Paul R. Armsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Protected areas have a central role to play in educating people about biodiversity and nature conservation. However, there is little evidence regarding how effective public education efforts related to protected areas have been. We used on-site questionnaires at Sites of Special Scientific Interest to determine whether visitors to sites were aware of their protected status. Less than one-third of visitors knew the site they were visiting was a SSSI. However, there was substantial variation in understanding across sites (8-43%). When we compared this variation to five possible predictor variables, only membership of conservation organisations was retained in all models in the 95% confidence set, with members of these groups being better informed about protected area designations. However, the predictive power of all models was low. These results represent a challenge for those aiming to reengage people with conservation and the countryside, and to educate them about its value and contribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3196-3200
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation organisation
  • Environmental awareness
  • Environmental education
  • Protected areas
  • Public engagement
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest

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