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Public and Professional Responses to the Visual Effects of Timber Harvesting: Different Ways of Seeing

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This study examines preferences and differences in preference among forest professionals and other forest stakeholders. Specifically, the study explores the underlying dimensions of preference and the stated rationale behind those preferences. Preferences were assessed for six different silvicultural treatments, including clearcutting, two-age cut, patch cut, group selection, commercial thin, and an unmodified control stand. Study participants were selected from six stakeholder groups: forest professionals, urban public, rural public, recreationists, environmentalists, and educators (n=210). Results show that people's preferences tend to follow the same general trend across all groups, with higher preference for less intense harvests. Foresters tended to show significantly greater preference than most other groups for treatments where tree removal left moderate to large openings; this difference was most striking with respect to clearcuts. Analysis of people's stated rationale behind the preference ratings suggests that differences in preference are a function of differences in how people interpret the scene. Foresters were more likely to see the management depicted in a scene and to interpret these signs of management in a favorable light; other groups were more likely to respond to the aesthetics of the scene or to processes perceived to be damaging to the landscape. Implications for these differences in preference and perception are discussed.
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Keywords: expertise; forest aesthetics; preference

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • 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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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