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Expectations towards forestry: The influence of personal networks with forest owners

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Forest and wood enjoy a high prestige in urban societies, however, forestry in general is held at a lower level of esteem. This hypothesis has been supported by several national and regional surveys throughout Europe and is often presented as an obligatory concomitant phenomenon of urbanisation processes.

Nevertheless, psychological studies indicate the importance of the social context for the evolution of peoples' preferences. Hence, personal communication with members of the forestry community may also influence the expectations of individuals towards forest management. Approximately 1.5 million people in Germany own forests, therefore, the chance of knowing one or more forest owners is relatively high, even in urban areas. The role of forest owners as propagators of forestry core beliefs may be important.

Within this context, the role of forest owners in interpersonal networks has been analysed in its importance in the evolution of preferences and expectations. The data was taken from a nation-wide survey based on telephone interviews with 2800 people. Important questions that can be answered with this study are 1) How many people know a forest owner? 2) What kind of relationship do they have with the forest owner? 3) Do they talk about forest management and, if so, how often? 4) What do people learn about forest owners' practices? 5) Do people address expectations to forest owners? 6) Do the networks influence the expectations people have towards forest management?

The results of this study are compared to results gained by network analyses in other fields and studies of small scale forest owner research.

Keywords: Germany; communication; multi-purpose forestry; opinion leaders; urban-rural linkages

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Institute of Forest Policy, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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