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Perceived Ecological Risks to Water Environments from Selected Forest Industry Activities

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This article examines underlying factors shaping lay perceptions, and differences between lay and expert perceptions, of the ecological risks to water environments associated with six forest industry activities. A survey was administered to 183 lay subjects in four communities within the Lower Fraser Basin of western Canada. Parts of the survey were also administered to 16 aquatic science professionals. The results show that both lay and expert respondents generally perceive that clearcut logging and effluent from pulp mills pose a high degree of risk, while selective logging poses a lesser degree of risk. Both groups believe that fertilizer use poses a risk to water quality. However, the experts viewed the construction of logging roads as posing significantly more risk to water environments, and requiring greater regulation, than did the lay respondents. Conversely, the lay respondents viewed pesticide use as posing significantly more risk to water environments, and requiring greater regulation, than did the expert respondents. Discussion about the implications of these perceptions in terms of policy issues and communication efforts complete the article. FOR. SCI. 46(3): 344–355.

Keywords: Ecological risk perception; environmental management; expert judgments; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; lay perceptions; natural resource management; natural resources; policy issues; risk communication

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Research Associate The School of Community and Regional Planning, 433-6333 Memorial Rd, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z2, 2: Director of the Human Rights Centre Vancouver Hospital, HP-C-328, 2600 Oak St, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Z 1M9, 3: President of Decision Research and a professor The University of Oregon, 1201 Oak Street, Eugene, Oregon, USA, 97401-3575,

Publication date: 2000-08-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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