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24. Exploring Forest and Recreation Management Preferences of Forest Recreationists in Alberta

DescriptionThis study supports the view that understanding the social values of stakeholder groups is an essential part of ecosystem management. It shows how familiarity with a place, and the lifestyle choices which show a preference for that place, influence perceptions about what is acceptable management policy.
MethodologyEmpirical research and literature review. Values of one stakeholder group, campers at managed sites in the Rocky-Clearwater Forest of Alberta, were examined using campground management preference and forest attitude scales. On-site and mail surveys were used to collect data from campers during 1994. Four specialisation clusters were delineated which identified differences in management preferences.
ResultsThe study demonstrates that familiarity with a place, the type of participation in outdoor recreational activity and the degree of specialisation in that activity, all influence the values of the user group. Campers most familiar with the area and those with most camping experience were least supportive of traditional timber management. Overall, campers did not support increased facility development at campsites and may be supportive of an ecosystem approach to forest management.
PublishedThe Forestry Chronicle, 72,(6) : 623-629
AuthorsMcFarlane, B.L. and Boxall, P.C.
PublisherNorthern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service
Keywordscamping, ecosystem management, forest recreation, management preferences, recreational specialisation, social values

Shows how familiarity influences the perception of management practices. Reveals the need to identify and understand the underlying social values, lifestyle choices and experience which appears to affect the way in which stakeholder groups react to management practices.

In their overview of scenic assessment studies Arthur, Daniel and Boster (1977, p121-122) comment on the problem facing models based on public opinion because of the discrepancies between behaviour and stated opinions. They quote studies by Hendee and Catton (1968) and Hancock (1973) to demonstrate this point. Hancock (1973) found that campers prefered to pitch their tents in areas where vegetation was controlled. This conflicted with their stated preferences.

Other references

Arthur, L.M. Daniel, T.C. and Boster, R.S. (1977). Scenic Assessment: an Overview. Landscape and Planning, 4: 109-129.

Hancock, H.H. (1973) Recreation preference: its relation to user behavior. J. For., 71(6): 366-337.

Hendee, J.C. and Catton, W.R. (1968). Wilderness users - what do they think? Amer. For., 74(9): 29-31, 60-61.