Rangelands in Greece constitute a very important natural resource as they occupy 40% of the total surface. Not only is their forage production essential for the development of extensive livestock farming, but also they play a key role in outdoor recreational activities, protection from erosion, provision of water supplies and biodiversity conservation. However, land use changes, inappropriate management and wildfires threaten their existence. The research was conducted among the citizens of Viotia prefecture, an area close to Athens, Greece, using personal interviews with a structured questionnaire in 2008. The aim was to record citizens' opinions regarding the threats to rangelands. The results suggest that the main threats as perceived by the respondents, are land use changes especially for urban development, and wildfires. The application of cluster analysis highlighted the differentiation among the respondents in ranking these threats. The more ecologically aware citizens recognised that mismanagement, abandonment and agriculture also threaten rangelands. These threats can have a considerable impact on the lives of the local people. Policy makers and managers should take the opinions of local citizens into consideration, and engage them in decision making so that sustainable management policies could be applied.
Keywords: Biodiversity conservation; Livestock farming; Perceptions; Rural development; Sustainable management.
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