Public perceptions about climate change mitigation in British Columbia’s forest sector

Guillaume Peterson St-Laurent, Shannon Hagerman, Robert Kozak, George Hoberg

Plos One 

23 April 2018

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Abstract

The role of forest management in mitigating climate change is a central concern for the Canadian province of British Columbia. The successful implementation of forest management activities to achieve climate change mitigation in British Columbia will be strongly influenced by public support or opposition. While we now have increasingly clear ideas of the management opportunities associated with forest mitigation and some insight into public support for climate change mitigation in the context of sustainable forest management, very little is known with respect to the levels and basis of public support for potential forest management strategies to mitigate climate change. This paper, by describing the results of a web-based survey, documents levels of public support for the implementation of eight forest carbon mitigation strategies in British Columbia’s forest sector, and examines and quantifies the influence of the factors that shape this support. Overall, respondents ascribed a high level of importance to forest carbon mitigation and supported all of the eight proposed strategies, indicating that the British Columbia public is inclined to consider alternative practices in managing forests and wood products to mitigate climate change. That said, we found differences in levels of support for the mitigation strategies. In general, we found greater levels of support for a rehabilitation strategy (e.g. reforestation of unproductive forest land), and to a lesser extent for conservation strategies (e.g. old growth conservation, reduced harvest) over enhanced forest management strategies (e.g. improved harvesting and silvicultural techniques). We also highlighted multiple variables within the British Columbia population that appear to play a role in predicting levels of support for conservation and/or enhanced forest management strategies, including environmental values, risk perception, trust in groups of actors, prioritized objectives of forest management and socio-demographic factors