Social Acceptability of Forest Conditions and Management Practices: A Problem Analysis

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Journal/Book Title

Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-537. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 68 p

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The purpose of this report is to improve understanding of the complex sociopolitical processes related to resource management and to help structure management response to conflict and contentiousness, misunderstanding among participants, and failed citizen-agency interactions. Public acceptance is essential to every resource management decision public agencies must make. Regardless of the issue—forest health, fuels management, riparian restoration, recreation impacts, or threatened and endangered species—the political environment surrounding most decisions is never about just single questions, nor is it about just ecological questions. Social acceptability involves many diverse factors that are only now beginning to be understood and given credence by resource professionals. In this analysis, we describe the social acceptability concept and identify 10 key problem areas needing indepth consideration for durable decisions to be made about forest conditions and practices on federal lands. A central conclusion is that public judgments are always provisional, never absolute or final. Each situation, each context, produces a unique set of circumstances affecting the formation of public acceptance. By its nature, social acceptability is a process rather than an end product.We conclude by presenting five basic strategies to help guide resource professionals and citizens toward more integrated solutions


Gen. Tech. Report PNW-GTR-537