Title: Public preferences for future conditions in disturbed and undisturbed northern forest sites
Author: Daniel, Terry C.;
Source: In: McCaffrey, S.M., tech. ed. The public and wildland fire management: social science findings for managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-1. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 53-61.
Publication Series: Other
Description: This study presented computer visualizations (pictures) of projected changes over an 80-year period to conditions in a northern forest that had been hit by a major blowdown. Study participants included local residents and forest visitors who were asked to choose between visualizations of projected outcome scenarios for 10 pairs of treatment versus no-treatment options for representative forest sites. Visitors and residents both generally preferred salvage-and-plant treatment scenarios for disturbed sites (where virtually all trees had been blown over) over no-treatment (natural regeneration) alternatives. In contrast, both residents and visitors consistently preferred no-treatment alternatives over treatments (thin, or thin and plant) for undisturbed sites. These preferences were also consistent with frequently expressed opinions that forest managers should "fix broken sites," but "leave unbroken sites alone." Because respondents based their preferences only on how a forest would look as depicted in the computer visualizations and not on the treatments that could produce a particular look, the study provides a systematic confirmation of publicly expressed predispositions. The study also shows that realistic and biologically accurate visualizations of future forest conditions can help translate complex biophysical data into a format that concerned citizens can understand. Such carefully created visualizations can aid manager-public communication in a number of contexts including informal "what-do-you-think-about-this" conversations, formal public meetings, research focus groups, and systematic national surveys of public opinion.
Keywords: communication, fuels treatments, defensible space, wildfire management, social acceptance, education, wildland urban interface
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Daniel, Terry C. 2006. Public preferences for future conditions in disturbed and undisturbed northern forest sites. In: McCaffrey, S.M., tech. ed. The public and wildland fire management: social science findings for managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-1. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 53-61.
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