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Landscape scale forest protection policies and bird diversity


Policies to encourage biodiversity protection on private property at landscape scales have been recently implemented in both the United States and Europe, although little is known about the social acceptability and ecological effectiveness of these policies. In this project, I will evaluate a policy in Finland (the 'cooperative network' program under the Forest Biodiversity Program for Southern Finland) that encourages groups of landowners in forested areas to enrol their land collectively in biodiversity conservation programs. These networks should create larger, more contiguous protected areas which would then support greater biodiversity. I will examine the ecological effectiveness and social acceptability of this policy at two scales (the property scale and the landscape network scale), using bird community abundance and diversity as an indicator of the success of the policy. In eight 10 km2 landscapes (all at least 50% forest cover) ranging from 0% to 100% protected, I will collect data on bird communities and vegetation characteristics, and use GIS to measure landscape characteristics such as mean forest patch size and connectivity. The host lab has considerable experience in quantitatively assessing the social acceptability of conservation policies on private land. I will use their methodologies to survey landowners in these landscapes regarding their willingness to participate in these policies, and the degree to which their neighbour's participation influences the likelihood of their own. I will determine if there is a positive relationship between social support for these policies and biodiversity present in the landscapes. The project will make two major contributions to landscape ecology and conservation biology: it will determine bird community and human response to conservation policy at two spatial scales simultaneously; and it will measure the ecological effectiveness of an impending forest protection policy.

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