Studies of ecosystems at the macro level is an important part of ecological science and the concern for the impact of economic activity on biodiversity is growing amongst researchers within different fields, as well as in the general society. Many empirical studies have analyzed the relationships between the environment and different human activities, and the way these activities influence biodiversity may depend on more than the level of economic activity and population size. Sociological and cultural factors may also play an important part in understanding these relationships.
A recently published study in Ecological Indicators aims to deepen the understanding of the relationships between human activities and biodiversity, by linking socio-economic indicators as well as sociological factors to biodiversity indicators at a national scale through statistical modelling. To do so, the researchers combined data from different sources; the European Values Study (EVS) and the European Environmental Agency, among others.
The study showed strong relationships between economic variables and biodiversity indictors, represented by the proportion of extinct and threatened species as well as a soil sealing measure. The spatial density of human activity, represented by economic growth and population levels, was found to be positively related to land sealing levels and biodiversity erosion. Significant relationships was also found between biodiversity and some sociological variables. Notably interpersonal trust, which is in general considered to be a key component of social capital which promotes economic growth, was found to improve biodiversity levels. The researchers behind the study stress the importance of integrating spatial density of human activity into political analyses that relates to biodiversity. Since there may be tensions between policies related to economic growth and biodiversity preservation, they emphasize that increasing social trust might provide a middle way in favoring both economic growth and biodiversity levels.
The text above is based on the publication:
Gosselin, Frédéric and Jean-Marc Callois. 2018. Relationships between human activity and biodiversity in Europe at the national scale: Spatial density of human activity as a core driver of biodiversity erosion. Ecological Indicators 90: 356-365. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.03.010