Survey clarifies the awareness of the Latvian society about the protection of species

A significant part of the society admits that they are poorly informed about endangered species, at the same time indicating that the extinction of species is a serious problem in Latvia. 9 out of 10 Latvians admit that the general public needs to be better informed about the importance of species protection, according to a survey conducted by the LIFE FOR SPECIES project.

Within the framework of the LIFE project LIFE FOR SPECIES, a sociological survey was conducted with the aim to find out the awareness of the Latvian society about the protection of species. The survey was conducted in cooperation with the Market and Social Research Center “Latvijas Fakti” in the summer of 2021 throughout Latvia, surveying more than 1,000 respondents aged 18 to 75 years. The survey revealed that a large part of the public (more than 70% of the respondents) rated their level of knowledge and awareness of endangered species and measures to be taken for the protection of species as poor or rather poor.

Project manager Gunta Čekstere comments:

“This survey and its results are very valuable not only for the implementation of the project, but also for planning and implementing various measures for the conservation of endangered species and informing the public. It should be emphasized that this survey is special because it is conducted in accordance with the standards of good practice of sociological research, helping to understand public opinion on various issues related to the protection of species. The results of the survey clearly show that the LIFE FOR SPECIES project, as well as other various nature conservation organizations and institutions, have an even wider field of work in informing about species protection issues.”

An absolute majority or 90% of respondents acknowledged that the public should be better informed about the importance of species protection, confirming the need for the LIFE FOR SPECIES project, updating the list of specially protected species and creating a new edition of the Latvian Red Data Book. At the same time, the majority of the public (over 80%) agreed with the statements that biodiversity is also a part of Latvia's culture and wealth, on which our well-being and health are based, and that biodiversity is important for our long-term economic development.

The data obtained in the survey confirm that the Latvian Red Book is a popular brand - more than 80% of the respondents have heard about it, and 4% of the respondents have this publication at home.

"The public is accustomed to finding information on rare and endangered species in the Red Book. This edition has gained people's trust over the years. It is important that an updated version of the Red Book is created within the project, and it will also be available on the Internet,” admits Dmitry Telnov, head of the invertebrate species group of the LIFE FOR SPECIES project.

There is a public opinion or 62% of respondents expressed the opinion that the possible extinction of species is a serious problem for Latvia. More than a third of respondents said that the extinction of species and the depletion of nature are already affecting them or will affect them in the future, while another 45% indicated that it will affect future generations.

Respondents expressed broad support for various species protection activities, such as planning new infrastructure, taking into account the needs of protected species and promoting environmentally friendly forestry, agriculture and entrepreneurship, ensuring that national and EU investment in these sectors does not harm biodiversity.

Assessing which of the protected species in Latvia needs immediate protection measures to survive, the black stork and white-tailed eagle stood out among the offered options. The live cameras of the Latvian Fund for Nature's bird nests were also recognized as the most known event in the field of the most significant activities for rare and protected species in the last 10 years.

The results of the study are available at the following link (in Latvian): LIFE FOR SPECIES survey on public awareness of species protection.  In case of republishing, reference to the project is mandatory.

The Project “Threatened species in Latvia: improved knowledge, capacity, data and awareness” LIFE19 GIE/LV/000857 LIFE FOR SPECIES is implemented with the financial support of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and Latvian State Regional Development Agency. This publication reflects only authors’ view. Neither CINEA (European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency) nor European Commission are responsible of any use that may be made, or the information contained therein.

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