Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Social Structure, Identities, and Values: A Network Approach to Understanding People's Relationships to Forests

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Social Structure, Identities, and Values: A Network Approach to Understanding People's Relationships to Forests

Article excerpt

Introduction

The management of publicly owned forests in the province of British Columbia (BC) Canada has traditionally focused on timber production and economic outputs. Registered professional foresters, people with specialized training in forestry who carry the legal responsibility for the management of forestry tenures, have dominated the decision-making process in forestry in the province (Mascarenhas & Scarce, 2004). However, there has been a shift in forestry toward the management of multiple values and recognition of the important role of non-timber values in sustainable forest management, including ecological, aesthetic, and recreation values (Prins, Adamowicz & Phillips, 1990; Kimmins, 1991; Carrow, 1994; Robinson, Robson & Rollins, 2001). This shift has also been recognized by the forest industry (e.g., Weyerhauser, 1998). The consideration of outdoor recreation as a non-timber value of forests is an important one, as recreation appeals to a broad range of people and encompasses a range of activities and opportunities (Cordell, Teasley & Super, 1997; Manning, 1999). For many people, outdoor recreation provides one of the few opportunities for experiencing and interacting with forested landscapes. Bryan (2000) has likened recreation activities to windows to the environment as they provide people the context in which they can experience the natural environment. Understanding this interface is important in addressing growing public concerns with, and expectations of, forest management. However, the perspective of forestry professionals is still dominant.

The shift in forest management toward the management of multiple values has paralleled an increased public awareness of environmental values and issues. Further, there has been a shift from forest management priorities being negotiated between governments and the forest industry, to forest management practices and specific programs being challenged by environmentalists. This shift was motivated by an increase in public awareness of environmental and forestry issues (Carrow, 1999). Carrow has characterized the progression of public involvement in forestry issues as one that progressed from an atmosphere of hostility and antagonism in the 1960s, to one that reflected greater degrees of local empowerment in the 1990s (Figure 1). This progression is evocative of climbing the rungs of Arnstein's (1969) ladder of citizen participation, moving from degrees of non-participation, through degrees of tokenism, finally achieving degrees of citizen power. Other authors have also noted the increase in public participation in natural resource decision-making (e.g., Wondolleck, Manring & Crowfoot, 1996; Overdevest, 2000).

The increase in public participation can be seen in the processes that have been used to plan and manage for outdoor recreation values in particular, and forested landscapes in general. For example, the Limits of Acceptable Change framework (LAC) applies a consensual approach to recreation management decision-making in wilderness areas; members of the public and stakeholders are involved in the identification of potential standards and monitoring along side technical staff (Stankey, McCool & Stokes, 1990; Payne & Graham, 1993; Cole & Stankey, 1997). The LAC has been applied in many jurisdictions, including BC where the Ministry of Forests has used it to plan and manage for outdoor recreation opportunities in wilderness areas (Jackson & Leavers, 2000). Two other developments have increased opportunities for public participation in BC forest management: regional land-use plans and the sustainable forest management certification movement. Regional land-use planning in BC is currently facilitated through Land and Resource Management Plans, which draw local stakeholders and government officials together in consensus-building processes that seek to develop and implement regional land use recommendations (Mascarenhas & Scarce, 2004). …

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