"What is most outstanding about this survey is that it shows that Chileans do not perceive conservation and development in opposition."
the Conservancy’s Country Representative in Chile
by Marcela Torres
The results of Chile’s first public opinion poll on environmental issues reveal surprisingly strong national awareness and support for conservation.
The poll was conducted by The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with US and Chilean firms, and is the first time in Chile that such research has been exclusively focused on public support for the environment.
More than 80 percent of respondents call for government action on assuring conservation of native forests, preserving marine life, protecting lakes and rivers from contamination and clearing up air pollution. This shows that the Conservancy’s work in Chile is in tune with what people identify as the main issues (View a summary PowerPoint Presentation of the environmental poll).
“People are asking the government to conserve native forests and marine life, two of the most relevant habitats where we are currently developing projects in this country,” says Francisco Solís, the Conservancy’s representative in Chile.
The poll shows strong voter support for conservation across the board:
- Almost 60 percent of voters agree that protecting the natural environment should be a priority, even if it might cause some job and investment losses in the short run.
- Climate change is considered the third most pressing concern, among other issues such as education, health, and employment.
- More than half of all voters say they have visited a Protected Area in Chile and 9 out of 10 of them have a very or somewhat positive impression of that Protected Area.
- More than 80 percent of voters support passing a law to give private property owners the option to voluntarily dedicate all or a portion of their land to conservation.
“What is most outstanding about this survey is that it shows that Chileans do not perceive conservation and development in opposition,” says Solís. The study also reveals that support for government action on the environment cuts across all demographic subgroups, including geography, income, gender and political party affiliation.
These results provide the first comprehensive baseline data about public attitudes toward conservation in Chile and contribute with input to plan the Conservancy’s work in the country’s Mediterranean habitats and coastal deserts, for example.
According to Solís “the poll covers a series of topics that are usually absent from most surveys and that are now placed on the national agenda in the hope that they can be included in public policies to achieve a coordinated effort by the government, private companies and citizens to conserve the environment for future generations in Chile.”
To conduct this survey, The Nature Conservancy partnered with U.S. strategic polling firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FMMMA) and the Chilean firm, Objetivo. The poll was carried out between November 7th and 18th, 2009 and the sample included 1,000 telephone interviews of randomly selected registered voters from 12 out of 15 regions in Chile, representing 98 percent of voters.
Marcela Torres was a marketing specialist/writer for The Nature Conservancy in Latin America.