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Local perceptions of sustainability indicators: issues of scale and implications for management

journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Joseph O'Toole, Anne WallisAnne Wallis, Bradley Mitchell
A key factor impacting upon sustainable development are the perceptions people hold of their local social, economic and ecological environment. These perceptions influence how communities fashion the local landscape and in turn help to condition the ways people adapt themselves to their local spatial realities. Implicit in these perceptions are indicators of sustainability that may or may not be integrated across the social, economic and ecological realms. Further, these local indicators may not accord with those adopted at the national or global scale. Accordingly, spatial scale presents a particular set of challenges in identifying appropriate indicators of sustainability. In the same way that aggregated changes at a local scale influence sustainability on a broad scale, national and global externalities profoundly affect perceptions relating to sustainable development at the finest of spatial scales.

This paper focuses on one aspect of the issue of scale in sustainable indicator selection: local perceptions of sustainability. In this paper we report on a survey of perceptions of sustainability conducted across thirty-two sub-catchments in three major catchments in south west Victoria. We sought to uncover what people within each sub-catchment perceived as socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Responses were compared across sub-catchments to determine whether perceptions at the sub-catchment scale were shared across the region. The results indicate that perceptions of sustainability varied between sub-catchments, which means that perceptions relating to sustainability at the regional scale may mask local trends.


History

Journal

Rural society

Volume

16

Issue

1

Season

Spring

Pagination

25 - 46

Publisher

eContent Management Pty Ltd

Location

Maleny, Qld.

ISSN

1037-1656

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, eContent Management. Available with kind permission of the publisher. Use in course readers must be reported to Copyright Agency Ltd. The definitive version is available at http://rsj.e-contentmanagement.com/archives/vol/16/issue/1/

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