Social preferences for ecological and landscape characteristics of linear transportation infrastructures at the territorial scale

The issues of social acceptability and environmental justice surrounding the development of Linear Transportation Infrastructures (LTI) are finding increasing resonance among populations at the territorial level. Citizens want LTI to be better integrated into the landscape and to limit their impact on the environment. But are they aware of the possible environmental services provided by LTI? These new academic and political issues lead us to focus on the social demand associated with the environmental and landscape integration of LTI at the territorial level. In this context, the PÉPITE project is focused on the study of Social Preferences for Ecological and Landscape Characteristics of Transportation Infrastructures at the scale of territories. The aim is to characterize the determinants of social preferences for these new uses and possible benefits of LTI, and to study their role in the acceptability of LTI at the territorial level. In the framework of this project, we are studying the following LTI: railways, roads and port interfaces (including dikes and canals). The literature leads us to anticipate a heterogeneity in the preferences of individuals from which we will study three possible causes: (1) the types and levels of environmental services supply, (2) the types of LTI concerned, and (3) the distance of people to ILT. We will also test whether the contribution and sharing of information between individuals using spatial information tools and deliberative approaches, play a role in social preferences by promoting the sharing of knowledge around the users of a same territory. To do so, we mobilize interdisciplinary tools and approaches that will lead us to develop a new methodological framework and to mobilize survey methods at the cutting edge of recent scientific advances in ecological economics, landscape ecology, and spatial information sciences and techniques. The aim of this research is therefore operational, academic and methodological at the same time. The PÉPITE research project is the result of a double interaction, between researchers from different disciplines, and between researchers and stakeholders of a territory. It is thus part of an approach of interdisciplinary exchanges and “co-construction” with operational partners. In this perspective, we have set up a partnership between four research laboratories, Ecology, Systematics and Evolution (ESE), Territory, Environment, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information (TETIS), the Center for Environmental Economics of Montpellier (CEE-M), and the Laboratory for Geography and landscape management of Montpellier (LAGAM), and three operational stakeholders intervening at different levels on the territory, and managers of the ILT studied in this project: the Occitanie Region, the Syndicat Mixte du Bassin de Thau and Port Sud de France. This partnership will notably allow us to anchor the research issues in concrete problems and case studies, and thus to empirically test our hypotheses on the territory of the Bassin de Thau, our study area. Finally, we will give an international scope to this research in order to evaluate its replicability at other scales and in other institutional contexts through the participation of foreign researchers.