Conflict in Clayoquot Sound: Using Thematic Content Anaylsis to Understand Psychological Aspects of Environmental Controversy

By Suedfeld, Peter; Lavallee, Loraine | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, July 1997 | Go to article overview

Conflict in Clayoquot Sound: Using Thematic Content Anaylsis to Understand Psychological Aspects of Environmental Controversy


Suedfeld, Peter, Lavallee, Loraine, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Abstract The present study examined the information campaigns of groups involved in the Clayoquot land-use debate for the presence of motivational and cognitive factors that may undermine the quality of forest land-use discussions. Integrative complexity, motive imagery (need for achievement, affiliation, and power) and value pluralism were measured in the publicity campaigns of 7 groups (3 environmentalist, a forest industry advocacy group, a forest company, the B.C. government, and a government-appointed forestry advisory panel). The campaigns were generally characterized by low levels of integrative complexity and of affiliation and achievement imagery, and high levels of power imagery. The complexity of the combined texts of the government and the advisory panel (M = 1.96) were significantly higher in integrative complexity (p < .05) than those of the environmental groups (M = 1.49). The complexity score of the forest industry advocates fell between those of the above groups (M = 1.80), and did not differ significantly from either. The values endorsed by the environmental and forest industry advocacy groups were non-overlapping, whereas the government/advisory texts contained values that overlapped with those of both advocacy groups, and had significantly (p = .02) higher levels of achievement imagery. THE CLAYOQUOT DISPUTE On April 13, 1993, the government of British Columbia released a land-use plan for Clayoquot Sound, an area located on the west coast of Vancouver Island (see Fig. 1), which includes one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest remaining in the world. As the area is one of British Columbia's most popular tourist destinations, with over 700,000 visitors annually, unusual public prominence surrounded the government's land-use decision. The Clayoquot plan designated 33% of the region as protected from logging, 45% for commercial timber use and 17% as special management (primarily narrow buffer zones between logging areas and the coastline, in which limited logging is permitted with special precautions). This decision sparked one of the largest environmental protests in Canada. Disputes over land use arise from conflicting interests and values associated with a particular area. Because of the wide range of values involved, Clayoquot Sound provides perhaps the quintessential example of land-use conflicts. The coastal temperate rainforests of Clayoquot Sound are aesthetically magnificent and biologically diverse: home to numerous animal and plant species, some of which are believed to be dependent on old-growth ecosystems (e.g., marbled murrelets and several species of salamanders). Temperate rainforests constitute a relatively rare forest type in the world. Of those that remain, the largest undeveloped tracts are found in South and North America, and no unlogged watersheds remain in the continental United States (M'Gonigle & Parfitt, 1994). Clayoquot Sound contains one of the largest remaining pristine watersheds. Clayoquot Sound is home to five Nuu-Chah-Nulth native groups (Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, and Ucluelet) who have outstanding land claims with the Canadian government. The other community located within Clayoquot Sound is the town of Tofino. In 1991, the total population of Clayoquot Sound was 2,039, with 1,103 living in Tofino (1991 Census). Fishing and logging were the original mainstay industries of the region, but eco-tourism has now become the largest employer of Tofino's work force (Steering Committee of the District Council of Tofino and the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, 1989). However, two communities (Ucluelet and Port Alberni), located outside of Clayoquot Sound but in the Alberni-Clayoquot forestry region, remain heavily dependent on the forest industry and forestry resources of Clayoquot Sound. The population of the entire Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District was 31,224 in 1991. History of Land-Use Discussions In Clayoquot Sound There is a four-year history of land-use discussions devoted to the allocation of forest resources in Clayoquot Sound.

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