Effects of Ecological Information on Judgments about Scenic Impacts of Timber Harvest

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Journal of Environmental Management

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The public is unlikely to accept ecosystem management practices unless they believe its ecological benefits outweigh its potentially adverse impacts. This study tested whether information about ecological benefits of ecosystem management can improve acceptance of impacts to visual resources. Students and office workers rated photographs of forest stands showing traditional and ecosystem management timber harvests. Half of the respondents first heard a 5 minute informational message about ecosystem management; the other half did not. Acceptability scores for some ecosystem management stands exceeded those for clear cuts or commercially thinned stands. Ratings varied significantly for different views of the same stand, but not between students and office workers or between message and control groups. However, there was a significant interactive effect: office workers who heard the message, rated the ecosystem managed stands asmore acceptablethan did the control group, while students who heard the message judged the stands asless acceptable. Managers hoping to influence public beliefs about ecosystem management must craft informational messages carefully, because poorly targeted messages may have unintended effects. (from publisher's website)


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