Date of Award

8-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Robert B. Powell, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Jeffrey C. Hallo

Committee Member

Brett A. Wright

Abstract

It has been generally assumed that individuals’ environmental values are influenced by culture, experiences, social norms, economic standing, among others. However, to date research on held environmental values has focused primarily on the developed world context. To address this gap, this research explores the environmental values of local people in a developing world context, specifically the Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark (DVKPG) in Ha Giang Province, Vietnam. To examine individual’s value orientation related to sense of place and held environmental values we asked residents of DVKPG a set of two open-ended questions: (1) what is most important to you about where you live, and (2) from an environmental standpoint, what is most important to you about where you live? To further elicit respondents’ underlying values, we followed up the second question by asking, “why?” We used Ardoin’s (2006) four Sense of Place dimensions and Kellert’s (1996) typology of environmental values to categorize residents’ responses. Results suggest that residents’ value orientation related to place focused mostly on the economic and political aspects, followed by the physical environment, and the sociocultural environment. Further exploration of environmental values reflected in responses suggested that a majority held utilitarian values, supporting widely held assumptions that the rural poor hold high utilitarian values. However not all responses coded as ‘utilitarian’ were the same and were focused around meeting basic needs (72%) and enhancing quality of life (36%). In addition to the theoretical benefit, this exploration of environmental values in a developing-world context also provides a better understanding of the people living within Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark to inform future conservation planning and outreach efforts.

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