Restoring a "scenically challenged" landscape: Landowner preferences for pine barrens treatment practices
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Landscape and Urban Planning
A pine barrens is an open, fire-dependent ecological community once prevalent in sandy areas of northern Wisconsin (USA). Efforts to restore pine barrens on public lands have been hampered in part because their character does not conform to many people's ideals of Northwoods forest scenery, challenging land managers on how to balance social and ecological goals. We studied the manager-relevant attributes of a pine barrens restoration site to predict nearby landowners' landscape preferences and to ascertain whether their preferences differed. We designed a discrete choice experiment where different levels of six attributes of pine barrens were systematically manipulated in visual choice scenarios and presented to landowners (N = 542) of small, family forest parcels in an online survey. Half of the respondents read an informational statement about barrens ecology and management prior to judging the scenarios for visual preference, while everyone answered questions about their knowledge and experience with barrens. Results showed dominant preferences for scenarios indicating a Northwoods "scenic aesthetic," with smaller openings, higher tree density, and lower fire intervals and understory shrub density. Latent class and a priori segmentations revealed smaller subgroups of landowners had higher preferences for more open treatment designs tending toward an “ecological aesthetic,” and while previous experiences at pine barrens helped to distinguish subgroups, prior knowledge and information did not. Implications are discussed for restoring pine barrens in a social context.
KeywordsDiscrete choice experiment; Preference heterogeneity; Ecological aesthetic; Ecological restoration; Forest treatment preferences
Gobster, Paul H.; Arnberger, Arne; Schneider, Ingrid E.; Floress, Kristin M.; Haines, Anna L.; Dockry, Michael J.; Benton, Claire. 2021. Restoring a "scenically challenged" landscape: Landowner preferences for pine barrens treatment practices. Landscape and Urban Planning. 211(1): 104104. 15 p. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2021.104104.