The role of social factors in environmental decision making.

Conservation scientists have engaged with decision makers across the globe in an attempt to manage humanity’s impact on the environment. Conservation planning has been used to communicate and mainstream biodiversity, yet there is increasing awareness of the importance of social aspects of decision making and the need to address the complexity of these processes in practice.

This research aims to advance our understanding of the role of social factors in environmental decision making through an empirical examination of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in South Africa. Through the use of qualitative approaches, the motivations of stakeholders are explored, and a system level view is taken to understand what governs this process in practice. These findings are then used to indicate consequences for conservation planning, biodiversity offsetting, EIA and conservation scientists who wish to engage with government decision making across the world.