Adaptive Participation in Forest Planning Contingent on a Hypothetical Large-Scale Forest Disturbance
Public involvement in management decisions is a vital requirement for successful adaptive forest management. I suggest that a critical and systematic examination is needed to understand why various publics become involved in forest-related management decisions and, more importantly, how public involvement in forest planning is likely to change under altered biophysical and social conditions caused by large-scale forest disturbances such as invasive species outbreaks. I address this need through a field-based stated preference experiment administered to three communities located near national forests within the eastern United States. I specifically examine three reasons that might compel individuals to become involved in forest planning: the loss of forest-related jobs, the loss of recreational amenities, and the loss of wildlife habitat and also examine the effects of gender on contingent behavior. The data suggest that all three potential losses have significant effects on individuals' behavioral intentions to participate in forest planning. The potential loss of wildlife habitat had the strongest influence on individuals' behavioral intentions. The potential loss of local forest-related jobs and recreational amenities had slightly less influence. Behavioral intentions to participate in forest planning also differed significantly by gender. The results suggest that changes in biophysical and social systems due to large-scale forest disturbances have the potential to dramatically alter public participation in environmental decisionmaking processes. Various factors, including the system properties likely to be affected, the extent to which those properties are affected, and the gender of potential participants, are likely to be key variables that result in new patterns of involvement in forest planning and management decisions.
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