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A Forestry Program for Oregon

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A Forestry Program for Oregon

A Forestry Program for Oregon:

    Public Opinion About Forests

    & Forest Management

    in Oregon

    A Literature Review

    June, 2001

    Prepared for:

    Oregon Department of Forestry

    Prepared by:

    1100 NW Glisan, Suite 300-B, Portland, OR 97209 Phone 503-220-0575, Fax 503-220-0576 E-Mail DHM@DHM-INC.COM

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Davis, Hibbitts & McCaig, Inc. is especially grateful for the contributions of the Oregon Department of Forestry staff and the committee of planners and advisors outside the Department chosen to direct this project. In addition to the Department, a special thank you to the following for their assistance and cooperation with this literature review: Oregon Forest Industries Council, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon State University College of Forestry, PacifiCorp, Weyerhaeuser Company, and Willamette Industries.

    Despite this assistance, Davis, Hibbitts & McCaig, Inc. remains responsible not only for the accuracy of the data reported, but also for any comments that go beyond the data into interpretation or prescription. The views contained in this report are those of Davis, Hibbitts & McCaig, Inc. and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oregon Board of Forestry or the Department.

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........................................................................................... 1 I. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................... 3 II. SYNTHESIS OF SELECTED ACADEMIC PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH OF

    FORESTRY AND RELATED TOPICS. ................................................................. 4

    A. National surveys/national forests and range management ............................ 4

    B. Forest management/clearcutting, ecosystem management, and range

    management .................................................................................................. 4

    C. Forest health .................................................................................................. 5

    D. Forest types and recreation ........................................................................... 5

    E. Public opinion and forest management .......................................................... 6

    F. Summary ........................................................................................................ 6 III. PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH AND THE CRITERIA FOR FOREST

    SUSTAINABILITY ................................................................................................. 8

    A. Criterion 1: Conservation of biological diversity ............................................. 9

    B. Criterion 2: Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems ........ 13

    C. Criterion 3: Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality ................ 17

    D. Criterion 4: Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources .... 19

    E. Criterion 5: Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles ...... 22

    F. Criterion 6: Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple

    socioeconomic benefits to meet the needs of society .................................. 24

    G. Criterion 7: Legal, institutional and economic framework for forest

    conservation and sustainable management ................................................. 27 IV. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................... 31 APPENDIX / BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................. 32

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Overview

    This literature review of public opinion about forests and forest management is part of a larger study to assist the Oregon Board of Forestry with revision of The Forestry

    Program for Oregon. The review examines current and past attitudes primarily in Oregon, selecting those studies and questions most directly relevant to the seven criteria for forest sustainability (CFS), the organizing framework for the Board’s current strategic planning effort.

    Selected academic research

    The review first looks at selected academic public opinion research, which covered topics like clearcutting, economic and recreational value of forests, and fire and wildlife management. The research generally indicated Oregonians want a balance between wildlife protection and jobs, with regional differences in public attitudes toward issues like clearcutting, logging old growth, and range management. Although aspects of the CFS were touched on by the academic research, it was limited.

    Public opinion research

    The report next examines private survey and focus group public opinion research over the last decade and more, with the findings organized around the Criteria for Forest Sustainability (CFS). The findings are organized by each criterion for forest sustainability, with selected questions being the most directly relevant to each and its

    indicators.

    ; Criterion 1: Conservation of biological diversity. Oregonians think that fish and

    wildlife habitat and wildlife diversity protection still need improving, although

    there was a slight decrease over the last 15 years in the belief that harvesting

    trees was harmful to fish habitat. Salmon habitat has become a bigger issue over

    the last decade. The public seems to relate more to ―wildlife habitat‖ than

    ―biological diversity.‖

    ; Criterion 2: Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems.

    Oregonians have had a continuing view that forest management should focus on

    reforestation. They also have been concerned about clearcut land and harvesting

    at sustainable levels. Varying responses indicate Oregonians may be unsure

    about reforestation requirements. Support for protecting old growth in national

    forests from harvest has increased notably in the last decade. They also care

    about protecting forest land from urban development.

    ; Criterion 3: Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality. Over the last

    15 years, there was a decrease in sentiment that harvesting trees was good for

    forest health. In 1986, the public said the second most important task for the

    Board of Forestry was minimizing damage from insects and disease, but more

    recent surveys have not tracked the relationship between these factors and forest

    health.

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    DHM Literature Review

; Criterion 4: Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources. Positive

    public opinion may be decreasing about management of soil erosion and water

    quality. However, the research does not clearly reveal how much the public

    knows about how things have changed. For example, Oregonians like buffer

    zones along streams and think they are adequate to protect water resources, but

    know very little about specific existing requirements.

    ; Criterion 5: Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles. The

    biggest change over the review period is that researchers are asking about global

    warming in Oregon, although most of the focus has been on the effects of air

    pollution and emissions rather than any relationship to forests and forest products. ; Criterion 6: Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple

    socioeconomic benefits to meet the needs of society. The role of the forest as an

    economic force is well documented, with a consistent strong positive belief

    among Oregonians in the importance of the forest products industry to Oregon’s

    economy over time while at the same time believing the forest industry will not

    continue to be a major employer in the state. Few questions have been asked

    about the public’s cultural, social, and spiritual values related to forests.

    ; Criterion 7: Legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation

    and sustainable management. Government and state forestry officials seem to

    have gained favor as forest managers and forestry officials and the forest

    products industry seem to have gained trust from 1986 to 1997. In the last six

    years, positive ratings of forest protection laws increased, in large part to a

    decrease in those who did not know. There also is a continuing interest among

    Oregonians to support forest research and education. The vast scope of this

    criterion offers ample opportunities to further explore public opinion, including

    public participation in policy and decision making, investment and tax policies,

    and allocating resources for monitoring indicators.

    Conclusion

    This review showed that existing public opinion research has covered many topics that are encompassed within the seven criteria for sustainability. However, the completeness varies considerably depending on the criterion.

    Certain issues, such as clearcutting and old growth, were well documented in the studies. Other issues such as forest health and carbon stores are newer and not as well documented. Recommendations for future research will be used as part of the development of phases two and three of this project, which are focus group and survey research. When the project is complete, the body of research on public opinion in Oregon will be more complete and provide a good foundation of social information for future sustainable forest management planning.

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    DHM Literature Review

    I. INTRODUCTION

    The following report is part of a larger study to assist the Oregon Board of Forestry

    with its strategic planning process The Forestry Program for Oregon that will

    frame policy initiatives and guide the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), the

    forest community, and the public as they seek to attain the goal of sustainable forest

    management. The purpose of this report is to review literature on social assessment

    and public opinion of forests and forest management in Oregon.

    The literature review, which is phase one of the study, examines current attitudes

    primarily in Oregon but also nationally concerning forests and forest management

    and looks back a decade and more for comparison and contrast. The information will

    be used to further explore Oregonians' attitudes toward forest management and

    sustainability in phases two and three: focus group and survey research.

    This report begins with a general overview of what is known through selected

    academic research about Oregonians' views about forestry and forest management.

    The report next examines private survey and focus group public opinion research,

    with the findings organized around the Criteria for Forest Sustainability (CFS) as 1developed through the Montreal Process, a framework being used by ODF for its

    strategic planning process. This framework will be used to examine current and past

    beliefs, and to develop questions for the next two research phases of this study. Each

    part of the larger study will relate its findings to the CFS.

    1 The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests were endorsed in 1995 by 12 nations representing over 90 percent of the world’s temperate and boreal

    forests, including the United States. More information on the Montreal Process can be found at www.mpci.org/home_e.html.

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    II. SYNTHESIS OF SELECTED ACADEMIC PUBLIC OPINION

    RESEARCH OF FORESTRY AND RELATED TOPICS.

    Academic researchers studied national, regional, and state public opinion of forestry issues throughout the 90s. Specific topics of research included clearcutting, economic value of forests, recreational value of forests, fire management, and wildlife management.

    A. National surveys/national forests and range management

    Shindler, List & Steel (1993) conducted a mail survey in Oregon (n=872) and nationally (n=1094) in 1991. The survey focused on economic management, wildlife management, and timber harvest issues in national forests. The response rate was 76% in Oregon and 68% nationally for the randomly selected respondents. Generally, Oregonians and national publics supported management practices that limited timber harvesting and protected wildlife on national forest lands. Both groups were clear in their support of policies to protect federal forests.

    Over half of national respondents and Oregonians disagreed or strongly disagreed that some existing wilderness areas should be open to logging. Over half also agreed or strongly agreed that clearcutting should be banned on federal forest land. Similarly, there was support from both groups to protect the remaining national forest old growth with stronger support nationally (76% agreed or strongly agreed) than in Oregon (51% agreed or strongly agreed). Oregonians were somewhat more concerned about preserving timber jobs. When asked about setting aside endangered species laws to preserve timber jobs, 48% of Oregonians disagreed or strongly disagreed while nationally, 65% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

    Similar attitudes were confirmed in a national survey (with no regional breakdowns) of range management policies in the spring of 1993 (Brunson & Steel, 1994). Telephone interviews were conducted with 1360 out of 2000 randomly selected households. Respondents were asked about setting aside endangered species laws to preserve ranching jobs and 65% of the national sample disagreed or strongly disagreed. Over 75% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with several wildlife management issues. Respondents supported greater protection for fish such as salmon, more protection for rare plant communities, and making greater efforts to protect wildlife.

    B. Forest management/clearcutting, ecosystem management, and range

    management

    Johnson and Armstrong (1999) reviewed several late nineties studies related to forest management. Three reports were mentioned that studied attitudes toward clearcutting, forest management, and rangeland management. The following is a summary of their review of the studies.

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    DHM Literature Review

    On the subject of clearcutting, Hansis (1995) conducted a study of four regions in the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Vancouver, rural Washington and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The statement "clearcutting should be banned on federal forest land" was presented to respondents. Sixty-two percent of Portland residents supported the statement. (However, Johnson and Armstrong noted that Multnomah County voters defeated a ballot measure to ban all clearcutting in 1998.)

    A 1998 survey by Steel and colleagues looked at the relationship between individuals' knowledge and support of ecosystem management and confidence in several managing agencies. Mail surveys were sent to residents of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California west of the Cascades. Correlations between demographics and feelings toward agencies were explored. People in the survey who had negative attitudes toward ecosystem management were likely to live in rural areas and have high confidence in the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. More positive attitudes toward ecosystem management came from younger, urban residents with higher levels of education. The people with more positive attitudes toward ecosystem management were more confident in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and university scientists.

    In a report on range management in 1997, Brunson & Steel compared samples from eastern Oregon, Oregon, and national publics. The eastern Oregon residents' views on management of rangelands were different than Oregon and national respondents. The survey used questions similar to the earlier rangeland survey (Brunson & Steel, 1994). Eastern Oregonians valued employment over preservation of endangered species and were less likely to believe more wilderness was needed or that greater efforts were needed to protect fish and rare plants.

    C. Forest health

    Turning to forest health issues, a report from the Blue Mountains Natural Resources Institute focused on attitudes toward prescribed fire and mechanized thinning (Shindler, 1997). Targeting a regional population of communities in northeastern Oregon, a random sample was mailed questionnaires which 535 individuals (56%) returned. Respondents agreed that prescribed fires and mechanized thinning were useful methods for decreasing the chance of high-intensity wildfires, reducing the amount of excess fuels in the forests, and effectively keeping insects and diseases at minimum levels.

    D. Forest types and recreation

    A study in the early nineties (Brunson and Shelby, 1992) focused on opinions in the Corvallis, Oregon area toward various forest types. The purpose of the study was to explore attitudes toward the recreational usefulness of different forest types. Participants in the study (n=95) visited several forests that had experienced several types of harvesting ranging from old growth to clearcut. The participants used descriptors to describe the sites and rated each as an acceptable place for hiking and camping. Old growth forests were rated as the best for hiking, camping and scenic viewing. One new forestry technique, patch cut, was almost as acceptable for camping as old growth.

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    DHM Literature Review

E. Public opinion and forest management

    Why public opinion is important to forest managers was explored in a recent journal

    article. Bliss (2000) made an editorial assessment of the relationship between public

    perceptions and forest management in 2000. Using the example of clearcutting, he

    proposed that in order for forest management to be successful, policies must truly

    understand public perception of the situation.

    In the case of clearcutting, what scientists say is an ecologically sound practice may

    not be as relevant as public perception of what is ecologically sound. His reasoning is

    that to continue forest management practices such as clearcutting that are so

    unaccepted by the public is to continue alienating the public from foresters. The end

    result would further impede the process of public involvement in forest management

    decisions.

    Although Bliss argues that while there is deep and widespread opposition to

    clearcutting, the issue is still not as simple as saying most people just oppose

    clearcutting. If that were the case, then as Johnson and Armstrong alluded,

    Multnomah County residents would have voted for Ballot Measure 64 in 1998.

    Surveys and focus groups have been used to characterize public values and attitudes

    about Oregon’s forests and forest management. However, the questions often do not

    ask people to weigh the costs and benefits of problems and potential solutions.

    Shindler and Cramer (1999) note that past research has failed to explore the tradeoffs

    people are willing to make for greater forest protection and how much environmental

    change is acceptable.

    Shindler and Cramer reviewed literature related to shifting public values regarding

    forests and the implications this has for forest management and sustainable forestry.

    The resulting challenges facing resource professionals are described as a system of

    problems, messes, or wicked problems. Shindler and Cramer challenge social

    scientists, including public opinion researchers, to work with resource professionals

    to do more with the general public than conventional surveys and focus groups. They

    call for the use of local forums and new research and consensus building techniques 2to help implement sustainability and improve forest stewardship.

     F. Summary

    What we do know is that different studies have asked a variety of questions of

    Oregonians and other groups about forest management. Researchers have explored

    opinions on clearcutting, opinions on the value of different forests, and opinions on

    economic and wildlife issues. The results are helpful but not always complete in

    capturing public opinion on all issues related to sustainable forestry management.

    2 Interestingly, ODF used a public workshop model in 1986 as part of its Forestry Program for Oregon. In the fall of 1999, ODF also held a symposium at Oregon State University where the “First Approximation Report” was released providing a snapshot of Oregon’s forests as seen through the Montreal process criteria and indicators.

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    DHM Literature Review

    By taking the information from all the academic studies as a whole, we can begin to construct a collective Oregon opinion of forest management. Oregonians see a need to balance between wildlife protection and timber jobs. Some subgroups of Oregonians see the value in fire and thinning techniques to maintain forest health. Other Oregonians value old growth forests for recreational uses over heavily logged forests. These studies begin to reveal a population that sees the value in varied uses and important features of Oregon's forests. However, it is important to note that there are often regional variations in public attitudes toward forest management issues. The CFS is a useful tool for organizing the content or trends of existing research and finding gaps in what we know as we consider the broader goal of sustainability. This will be more fully developed in the remaining sections of this report. The reviewed academic studies all touch on, to varying degrees, the seven criteria. Conservation of biological diversity is addressed with questions about protecting wildlife and endangered species and fish (Criterion 1). Maintenance of productive capacity is somewhat addressed with questions about limiting clearcutting and logging (Criterion 2). However, the questions do not get at the nuances presented in the indicators of productive capacity of forest ecosystems. One study looked at forest health issues (Criterion 3), but only with a regional sample. Conservation of soil and water (Criterion 4) and forest contribution to global carbon cycles (Criterion 5) were not explored in the surveys. Criteria related to socio-economic benefits and the legal and institutional frameworks were touched upon in the research. Studies tackled employment and recreational aspects of Criterion 6. Trust in different forest managers fell under Criterion 7

    While academic research is helpful and has the potential to contribute to the knowledge base of Oregon public opinion regarding forestry management issues, more could be done to capture the breadth of these issues, especially as seen through the lens of the CFS and indicators. In the next sections, we will examine contributions from private public opinion services to the knowledge base and how the findings fit into the seven criteria for conservation and sustainable management.

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