Do public attitudes towards forestry align with government policy objectives? Insights from a case study in north west Scotland

Louise Sing, Marc J Metzger, Duncan Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The 2019 Forestry Strategy outlines the Scottish Government's objectives to increase the economic, environmental and social contribution of forests, through afforestation, restoration and sustainable management. Public attitudes to forests and forest expansion will be important in meeting these targets. However, despite forming a key stakeholder group, public engagement in the existing consultation process for new land and forest management plans is limited, and societal views are not well represented. We surveyed 212 forest users and local residents in Lochaber, north-west Scotland, to understand attitudes towards different types of forestry. The results show public preferences are most closely aligned towards biodiversity and health and well-being policies, rather than other environmental and economic benefits. Using a novel landscape visualisation tool, we found that people do like forested landscapes, especially native woodlands. Furthermore, the responses to a series of photographs representing forestry also revealed predominantly positive attitudes towards all stages of commercial forests except clear-felled sites. Diversified management approaches, particularly where recreation is an important objective, and increased public engagement are recommended to demonstrate the multiple benefits of productive as well as native forests, and support landowners and the forestry sector in delivering key policy objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
JournalScottish Forestry
Volume73
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019

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