Date of Award

12-2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Jessica Leahy

Second Committee Member

David Kittredge

Third Committee Member

Mark Anderson

Abstract

This is a two-part study that incorporates social science research methodologies to study the human dimensions of forest resources. The first chapter is a quantitative analysis of family forest landowners in Maine that incorporates the concept of place attachment, an approach novel to the field, to better understand landowner behavior. Traditional methods to understanding family forest landowners have been to identify unique subgroups of landowners to better tailor research, education, and outreach efforts. To expand on this approach, our study adopted social psychology concept of place attachment to provide a new prospective on how cognitions and evaluations influence landowner behavior. Data were collected by administering a mailed survey to 1000 Maine family forest landowners asking questions on demographic, management objective, communication and behavioral intentions as well as a series of questions designed to measure place attachment and dissatisfaction. Supporting our hypothesis, it was found that measured cognitions such as place meanings and evaluative beliefs were successful at predicting landowner place attachment and dissatisfaction. Additionally, results indicated place attachment and dissatisfaction could be used to predict specific landowner behaviors, such as seeking information and having a will. Coupling these results with segmentation analysis of ownership objectives, it was found that over 75 percent of family forest landowners in Maine experience strong place attachment and highly value passing land on to their heirs. Previous studies have found inheritors are significantly more likely to engage in active forest management and receive land stewardship and forest sustainability values from previous generations (Majumdar, Laband, Teeter, & Butler, 2009), and this study recommends polices that promote and bolster intergenerational transfer of family forests to help ensure the timber supply and sustainable management of forests in Maine. The second chapter is a qualitative analysis of forest science researchers that explores how researchers work with stakeholders and how alternative approaches to knowledge production can be incorporated into forest resources. Criticisms have begun to emerge of traditional knowledge production systems' inability to solve the complex issues surrounding natural resources. To address these "wicked problems", the approaches of sustainability science and participatory research have been adopted by researchers in which they take a more holistic, iterative approach to problem solving that incorporates the knowledge and abilities of vested stakeholders. To explore how researchers produce knowledge our study conducted semi-structured interviews with forest science researchers, asking direct questions about how they define and work with stakeholders. Our analysis revealed a great awareness among researchers for the need to cooperate with stakeholders and to incorporate their knowledge and abilities into the research process, as well as lamentations over structural, institutional, and resource limitations inhibiting the adoption of sustainability science and participatory research practices. The results of this study give insight to not only how forest science researchers work with stakeholders, but also how individuals and institutions can better incorporate these methodologies into their research philosophies.

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