Knowledge of biodiversity
In general, knowledge is considered an important, but not sufficient condition for environmentally-aware behaviour. If a person does not know anything about biodiversity and the impacts of its possible decline, they are unlikely to be able to assess the associated risk adequately, and if they are not familiar with the available action options, they are unlikely to act accordingly if they make a suitable risk assessment.
In addition, the population’s knowledge is also indicative of the general interest in biodiversity.
In a representative survey carried out in 2016, 74% of the respondents stated that they had already heard or read the term “biodiversity”. However, it emerged that 19% of those who had already heard the term were unable to define it. Around two thirds of the remaining definitions, or at least elements of them, were correct. The definition “diversity in nature, plants and animals” was the definition that was selected most often by far. The other responses concerned issues that influence biodiversity but do not represent a definition (e.g. the consumption of organic products or selection of energy supply).
When the overall trend is considered, it emerges that biodiversity has become considerably more familiar to people in recent years: in 2009 the proportion of people who had heard the term was merely 48%. Of these, around 60% were able to define it correctly. This figure remained stable over the years.
In the same study, the respondents were requested to name the three most important measures for the conservation of biodiversity. Of all of the specified measures, 57% were assessed as correct. These included, for example, air pollution control measures (15%), measures for the conservation of habitats (13%), measures relating to food and consumption (11%), and agricultural measures, for example organic farming (7%). In addition to answers relating to phenomena that only have a weak or indirect influence on biodiversity, very general answers (e.g. concern about the environment, changing behaviour, information) were assessed as incorrect.
Also worthy of mention is the fact that 52% of the respondents were unable to name three measures and 17% were unable – or did not wish – to specify a single measure.
The results indicate that fewer than half of the respondents had already focused on the topic of biodiversity in detail. Accordingly, the action knowledge – that is knowledge about measures that would have to be taken to prevent a decline in biodiversity – is limited. For this reason, the state is assessed as fair. As opposed to this, the fact that the degree of knowledge of the term biodiversity has clearly increased in recent years is encouraging. For this reason, the trend is assessed as positive.
The data originate from the “Univox Umwelt” (“Univox Environment”) survey, which was carried out by the market and social research agency gfs-zürich in 2016. The survey was carried out by telephone and covered a range of topics relating to environmental pollution, environmental awareness and environment-relevant behaviour. The sample (N=1013) meets the criteria of representativity.
The percentage of people who are familiar with and can correctly define the term “biodiversity” was surveyed. The naming of elements of biodiversity was also assessed as correct. In addition to explicitly incorrect answers, very general answers were also assessed as indicative of a lack of knowledge about biodiversity.
A second question relating to knowledge about biodiversity was: “What are the three most important measures for conserving biodiversity”. No optional answers were provided. The number of measures that the respondents were able to name (0-3) is assessed as conclusive here.