Publication Details

Forest aesthetics, biodiversity, and the perceived appropriateness of ecosystem management practices

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Year Published

1996

Publication

In: Brunson, Mark W.; Kruger, Linda E.; Tyler, Catherine B.; Schroeder, Susan A., tech. eds. Defining social acceptability in ecosystem management: a workshop proceedings; 1992 June 23-25, Kelso, WA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-369. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 77-97.

Abstract

The social acceptability of 'ecosystem management' and related new forestry programs hinges on how people view the forest environment and what it means to them. For many, these conceptions are based on a 'scenic aesthetic" that is dramatic and visual, where both human and natural changes are perceived negatively. In contrast, appreciation of biologically diverse forests created through ecosystem management practices depends on experience of the subtle, multimodal characteristics of a dynamic environment, an aesthetic attitude that is acquired and cognitive rather than immediate and affective. Society is unlikely to quickly adopt this 'ecological aesthetic' as espoused by Aldo Leopold and others. However, the concept of appropriateness could serve as a short-term alternative for resolving perceived conflicts between aesthetic and biodiversity values. Unlike scenic assessments, assessments of appropriateness address the question 'what belongs where?' and work to integrate aesthetic and biodiversity goals rather than to seek absolutes. This concept also ties aesthetics together with land ethics by seeking a harmonious 'fit' between human activity and the natural world. Approaches are outlined that suggest how perceptions of appropriateness might be studied and used in the context of ecosystem management practices. Additional thought is given to how researchers and managers can begin to broaden ideas of forest aesthetics over the long term.

Citation

Gobster, Paul H. 1996. Forest aesthetics, biodiversity, and the perceived appropriateness of ecosystem management practices. In: Brunson, Mark W.; Kruger, Linda E.; Tyler, Catherine B.; Schroeder, Susan A., tech. eds. Defining social acceptability in ecosystem management: a workshop proceedings; 1992 June 23-25, Kelso, WA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-369. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 77-97.

Last updated on: August 11, 2006