Private landowners and protected species: What sort of noncompliance should we be worried about?
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ViittausJokinen, Maarit. Hujala, Teppo. Paloniemi, Riikka. Vainio, Annukka. (2018). Private landowners and protected species: What sort of noncompliance should we be worried about?. Global Ecology and Conservation, 15, e00407. 10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00407.
Species protection legislation has been used as one of the main approaches in conservation – yet in many cases we know only little about the effectiveness and side-effects of such regulation. Noncompliance can limit effectiveness of legislative protection, and deliberate harmful actions by landowners have sometimes been reported as a response to restrictions. We studied attitudes of 186 Finnish forest owners toward the protection of Siberian flying squirrel Pteromys volans – a species which is protected according to the European Union Habitats Directive and is a well-known example for species protection in Finland. We explored the attitudes and claims of harming protected species by comparing the responses of persons with and without direct experience of legal protection by structural equation modelling. We found that experience did not explain forest owners' attitudes toward having the species in their forest. Claims of harming protected species were connected to policy attitudes and should be interpreted as a political phenomenon: they reflect political discourse on conservation policy and are a part of debate between stakeholders. Accidental and reckless noncompliance seem more important phenomena than intentional harming, especially as the chance in Finnish Nature conservation likely Act likely affects information of nest sites on logging areas. Other instruments than legislative protection of known nest sites might be more effective in protecting the flying squirrel population.