Understanding residents’ attitudes towards protection of water resources in the upper Hennops river catchment of South Africa
thesisposted on 02.03.2017 by Makondo, Jabulani Lawrence
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Environmental attitude is an essential concept and one that is regularly used in environmental research, social research as well as the global practices of environmental management. Due to the global nature of environmental problems, environmental attitudes became one of the significant research areas of interest among various disciplines during the latter decades. Several studies have been conducted in regard to environmental attitudes; yet many of these have given little consideration to investigating residents’ attitudes towards the protection of natural resources, particularly water resources. This study sought to understand residents’ attitudes towards the protection of water resources in the upper Hennops River catchment area of South Africa. A survey method was utilised to carry out the study. Data was collected via a survey questionnaire that was physically delivered to respondents and collected through the same manner. Three specific aspects of residents’ attitudes towards the protection of water resources were investigated: (a) the perceived importance for protecting water resources in general and also for specific purposes; (b) the nature and extent of support for, and opposition to, various measures aimed at protecting water resources; and (c) the environmental values that form the basis of residents’ attitudes towards protection of water resource environments. A quantitative analytical method was employed in order to draw significant conclusions of the research. Overall, the study findings revealed that residents exhibit favourable attitudes towards the protection of water resources. Considerable support exists for water resource protection with respect to: water resource quality protection; some specific regulations; and financing mechanisms – especially those that make polluters pay. Resistance is, however, strongest towards: water/sewer charges, refuse collection, income taxes, property levies and paying for new developments. Findings also demonstrated that residents’ attitudes towards water resource protection are governed by the ecocentric environmental values. In light of these research findings, a balanced programmes underscoring the significance of a paying culture – which supports the protection of water resources, along with particular enforceable regulations and financing systems that make the polluters pay – are recommended. Moreover, a subjective comprehension of people’s environmental attitudes along with inherited environmental values should likewise be considered in the development of water resource protection measures. In sum, the findings of this research have implications for environmental attitude research in terms of understanding residents’ environmental attitudes and also how further research on environmental attitudes may be carried out. The research also has implications for management of water resources. From a practical point of view, this research suggests that the understanding of residents’ environmental attitudes should inform decision–making in the management practices of water resource environments.