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Environ Manage. 2005 Oct;36(4):495-505.

Value orientation and forest management: the forest health debate.

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Ecological Restoration Institute, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 15017, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA.


Among both forest practitioners and the general public, "forest health" has become an issue of contention. Whereas the debate over which treatments will best achieve healthy forests has been framed largely by the popular media and politicians as a struggle between industry and environmentalists, the views of the general public remain unexplored. Survey results from Oregon and Washington residents were used to assess the relationships between respondents' self-described environmental or economic priorities and the following two variables: (1) acceptability of forest management practices and (2) perceived threats to forest health. Findings indicate that active management was generally accepted by a majority of respondents regardless of their environmental or economic orientation. Disagreement emerged, however, when the appropriateness of specific management practices within specific forest conditions was examined. Additionally, strong evidence was found for a relationship between self-described environmental or economic orientation and perceived threats to forest health. Those with an environmentally oriented viewpoint tended to perceive human-caused factors as the largest threats, whereas those with an economic orientation saw naturally occurring processes as the greatest threats. These findings suggest that the issue of contention is not active management per se. Rather, the major divisions in the forest health debate are defined by specific contexts and circumstances, as well as the management practices used.

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