Woodlots in the rural landscape: Landowner motivations and management attitudes in a Michigan (USA) case study

Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
Landscape and Urban Planning (Impact Factor: 3.04). 02/2002; DOI: 10.1016/S0169-2046(01)00213-4


Woodlots provide important environmental benefits in the Midwestern (USA) landscape, where they are undergoing rapid change. An increasingly diverse farm and non-farm population owns these non-industrial private forests (NIPFs). It is essential to understand what motivates NIPF landowners to retain and manage their forests. We describe a study of NIPF owners in an agricultural watershed where forest cover is increasing. What motivations and management practices might be contributing to this increase? The results of a survey of 112 NIPF owners suggest that aesthetic appreciation is the strongest motivator for retaining woodlots, especially by non-farmers. Protecting the environment also seems to be important for both farmers and non-farmers, while economic motivations are significantly less important. Landowners indicated that they are primarily taking a “hands-off” approach to management. This study provides insights for those interested in understanding NIPF landowners’ motivations and for developing effective programs.


Available from: Raymond K De Young
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    • "The present study seeks to improve the forest conservation community's understanding of what effect forestry assistance programs, and in particular assistance associated with the FSP, have on family forest owner behaviour. This is of particular importance because previous research has cited the limited success of government programs to motivate family forest owners (Erickson et al. 2002). In order to address this issue, the present study adopts a qualitative approach for examining the links between landowner assistance programs and family forest Family Forest Owners' Perceptions of Landowner Assistance… owner behaviour. "
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    • "These financial incentives are intended to tip the scale in favor of VIP preferred land management practices under the rational choice assumption that individuals use cost–benefit analysis to choose the most advantageous management option to meet ownership objectives among all possible known alternatives. This approach is sound in theory but, in practice, enrollment in VIPs has been notoriously low (Erickson et al., 2002; Mayer and Tikka, 2006; Ma et al., 2012). Although it is possible that the financial incentives of VIPs are simply too low to illicit significant levels of voluntary cooperation, we argue that low enrollment is also due to the effects of social influence on landowner choices and decision-making (Bliss and Martin, 1989; Bieling, 2004). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) owners make thousands of uncoordinated land use decisions that collectively and critically impact forest ecology. Prior research generally assumes private land use decisions adhere to the rational choice paradigm, driven primarily by cost–benefit calculations, such as financial considerations. Thus, when aiming to coordinate land use change in landscapes dominated by private property, policy makers often use economic or educational incentives to encourage enrollment in voluntary programs. Despite these incentives, enrollment in voluntary programs is notoriously low. The current study offers a possible explanation for this problem. It highlights the role of social influence in shaping NIPF land use decision-making. Our research draws on qualitative data gathered from interviews with 37 landowners in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, to discover how social influence affects land management practices, such as decisions to join voluntary programs. We find evidence that family traditions, community relationships, and locally defined social norms play key roles in shaping the land use decision options available to individual landowners. Local norms against clear cutting and trust (or lack thereof) in local experts and organizations were found to be particularly important. We also found evidence of cognitive dissonance associated with conflict between Scandinavian versus American traditions of public access to private lands.
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    • "Perception is the process of awareness, alert and identification of the process that happens in the surrounding (Goodey, 1971). In fact, many studies indicated that the way people perceived their environment was affected by their demographic factor (Erickson et al., 2002; Kaltenborn & Bjerke, 2002; Gude et al., 2006; Benjamin et al., 2007; Bauer et al., 2009). While according to Zube et al. (1975), perception in the landscape is also influenced by an individual's memory and experiences, background cultural, beliefs and preference. "
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