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Perceptions of Forest Health among Stakeholders in an Adaptive Management Project in the Sierra Nevada of California

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Abstract:

“Forest health,” a term broadly used in US forest management, has been described as a normative term that implies one ecological state is better than another and as a positive goal for forests that stakeholders can rally around. The definitions stakeholders brought to a participatory adaptive management program in central California may be thought of as reflective of mental models shaped by experience and culture. Perceptions of forest health and the potential link to ideas about management were assessed through 42 in-depth interviews of individuals concerned about forests in the study area. Four views of forest health emerged, characterized here as oriented to biodiversity, ecological processes, history, and management. These were not clearly linked to divergent opinions of what participants consider appropriate forest management tools. Definitions were not mutually exclusive or rigid, revealing opportunities for reconciliation and social learning. Working to establish unified ecological goals has been suggested as a first step for collaborative and participatory projects. Longer-term participants tended to espouse the process-oriented view of forest health, perhaps reflecting the development of a hybrid culture of shared meanings, norms, and expectations about team processes fostered through the social learning that is key to adaptive management.

Keywords: collaborative adaptive management; forest health; forest management; forest planning; normative terms; public participation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.12-004

Publication date: September 12, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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