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Recreational preferences depending on thinning practice in young even-aged stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.): comparing the opinions of forest and landscape experts and the general population of Denmark

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The aim of this study was to investigate to which extent forestry professionals, other “green” professionals (mainly landscape architects) and natural resource students in Denmark agree with the general population regarding their recreational preferences for contrasting stem densities in young, even-aged stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.). The study was based on five pairs of colour photographs from each of the five recently thinned experimental plots in a 13-year-old stand. The plots represented five different residual stem densities: 7000 (unthinned), 5300 (traditional thinning), 1000, 300 and 100 stems ha−1. All cut trees were left on the ground. The analysis was carried out as a survey of forest and landscape experts (n=158) and the general public (n=243) based on questionnaires. Interviewees ranked the photographs according to the criterion: “Which forest environment do you prefer as a visitor?” Principal component factor analysis showed that the general public tended to perceptually group photos according to similar overall pattern of openness, presence of row structure and stand accessibility (including presence/absence of slash). As long as a stand appeared accessible, stand density had little influence on their preferences for a wide range of stand densities (5300−300 stems ha−1). In contrast, foresters, other “green” professionals and students seemed to perceptually group photos according to treatment type, and the presence of slash had little influence on their preferences. This suggests an influence of professional background, making experts visually analyse and evaluate stands according to contemporary management standards and paradigms within their own profession.
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Keywords: Quercus; forest accessibility; forest recreation; oak; pre-commercial thinning; scenic beauty; slash; stand density

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-230 53, Alnarp, Sweden 2: Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, DK-1958, Frederiksberg C, Denmark

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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