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Family Forest Landowners' Interest in and Perceptions of Forest Certification: Focus Group Findings from Minnesota

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Focus groups were organized with individuals owning between 15 and 720 forested acres in northern Minnesota to better identify their understanding of, questions about, and interest in forest certification; factors that would encourage or discourage their participation in certification programs; and the types of certification program characteristics they preferred. Family forest landowner participants were generally unfamiliar with the concept of forest certification. They expressed concern about certification costs and benefits, its impact on land-use decisionmaking, eligibility requirements, and program administration. They also expressed clear preferences about how forest certification programs should be tailored to family forest landowners. The availability of financial assistance to help cover initial and ongoing certification costs, assurance that certification will not encumber property rights, and clear and tangible benefits were found to positively influence their interest in participation. The perspectives of other family forest landowners influenced individual attitudes toward certification. Moreover, initial attitudes toward forest certification only became more entrenched as landowners were provided additional information about certification—skeptics became more disinterested while those inclined to participate became even more so. Recommendations for foresters, forest policymakers, and forest certification program leaders are presented that would encourage more family forest landowner participation in certification.

Keywords: family forests; forest certification; nonindustrial private forestland; sustainable forestry

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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