Visitor Preferences for Visual Changes in Bark Beetle-Impacted Forest Recreation Settings in the United States and Germany
Extensive outbreaks of tree-killing insects are increasing across forests in Europe and North America due to climate change and other factors. Yet, little recent research examines visitor response to visual changes in conifer forest recreation settings resulting from forest insect infestations, how visitors weigh trade-offs between physical and social forest environment factors, or how visitor preferences might differ by nationality. This study explored forest visitor preferences with a discrete choice experiment that photographically simulated conifer forest stands with varying levels of bark beetle outbreaks, forest and visitor management practices, and visitor use levels and compositions. On-site surveys were conducted with visitors to State Forest State Park in Colorado (n = 200), Lake Bemidji State Park in Minnesota (n = 228), and Harz National Park in Germany (n = 208). Results revealed that the condition of the immediate forest surrounding was the most important variable influencing visitors’ landscape preferences. Visitors preferred healthy mature forest stands and disliked forests with substantial dead wood. The number of visitors was the most important social factor influencing visitor landscape preferences. Differences in the influence of physical and social factors on visual preferences existed between study sites. Findings suggest that both visual forest conditions and visitor use management are important concerns in addressing landscape preferences for beetle-impacted forest recreation areas.
A. Arneberger et al. 2017.Visitor Preferences for Visual Changes in Bark Beetle-Impacted Forest Recreation Settings in the United States and Germany. Environmental Management 61(2):209-223