Understanding factors that influence stakeholder trust of natural resource science and institutions

Environ Manage. 2012 Mar;49(3):663-74. doi: 10.1007/s00267-011-9800-7. Epub 2012 Jan 1.


Building trust between resource users and natural resource institutions is essential when creating conservation policies that rely on stakeholders to be effective. Trust can enable the public and agencies to engage in cooperative behaviors toward shared goals and address shared problems. Despite the increasing attention that trust has received recently in the environmental management literature, the influence that individual cognitive and behavioral factors may play in influencing levels of trust in resource management institutions, and their associated scientific assessments, remains unclear. This paper uses the case of fisheries management in the northeast to explore the relationships between an individual's knowledge of the resource, perceptions of resource health, and participatory experience on levels of trust. Using survey data collected from 244 avid recreational anglers in the Northeast U.S., we test these relationships using structural equation modeling. Results indicate that participation in fisheries management is associated with increased trust across all aspects of fisheries management. In addition, higher ratings of resource health by anglers are associated with higher levels of trust of state and regional institutions, but not federal institutions or scientific methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Fisheries*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New England
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Recreation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust*