Date of Award

5-2014

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

John Daigle

Second Committee Member

Kathleen Bell

Third Committee Member

Linda Silka

Abstract

The state of Maine is 90 percent forested and 95 percent privately owned. Nearly one-third of Maine’s 17.8 million acres of forestland is owned by over 200,000 landowners. The majority of these individuals own land in southern and central Maine and it is these locations where forest parcelization and residential development are increasing in the state. How landowners steward their property has the potential to affect timber supply; wildlife habitat and biodiversity; forest carbon sequestration; and a variety of recreational opportunities. Two social science surveys were implemented to explore landowner decision making and behavioral intentions. Social, environmental, and community psychology constructs served as the underlying theoretical framework. Findings from the Kennebec County Woodland Owner Survey (n = 452, 53% response rate) suggest individuals feel a moral, stewardship responsibility to consider how their land use affects other entities and in turn, this obligation indirectly influences their intention to develop land. When operationalized as a moral norm, landowner’s stewardship responsibility does not increase the overall predictive capacity of the theory of planned behavior. However, it does significantly influence landowner attitudes and to a lesser degree, perceptions of behavioral control. Results from the Maine Landowner Survey (n = 659, 47% response rate) indicate that landowner place attachment is comprised of three underlying factors, which span emotional, environmental, and sustenance-related attributes. The latter attribute represents a theoretical divergence from previous place attachment research in terms of individuals functional place dependence. Landowners who are emotionally attached to their land and view it as part of their identity also exhibit higher levels of sense of community. This research contributes to the advancement of stewardship theory and provides support for the importance of personal norms in land use decisions. Further, this research illustrates the influential role of landscape features on landowner’s stewardship responsibilities, place attachment, and sense of community. Lastly, findings suggest landowner place attachment and to a lesser degree, sense of community, influence behavioral intentions. Natural resource professionals interested in the long-term sustainability of Maine’s forests can tailor outreach/education efforts toward attributes which resonate with this population by highlighting potential benefits to biophysical and personal/familial characteristics.

Share