Public Benefits from Private Forests and Woodland in England: Investigating the Opportunities for Public Good Enhancement

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Urquhart, Julie
  • Subject: SD | S900_Conservation

Public goods such as environmental conservation, amenity and carbon sequestration are increasingly\ud emphasised in forest policy agendas. However, many public benefits in woodlands have occurred\ud incidentally, rather than on the basis of socio-economic logic and often at locations relatively\ud inaccessible to major centres of population. In fact, data reveal a concentration of privately owned\ud woodland in densely populated areas, especially in central and southern England, and that woodland is\ud often factored into residential location decisions and lifestyle behaviours. However, the provision of\ud public goods is likely to be contingent on the value systems of private forest and woodland owners and\ud their flexibility of response to measures promoted under the devolved forest strategies.\ud A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed to construct a robust\ud typology of private woodland owners with respect to their willingness and ability to deliver public good\ud benefits in three study areas in England: the Lake District, Cornwall and the High Weald AONB.\ud Building on an exploratory scoping study, Q Methodology interviews were conducted with 10 woodland\ud owners in each study area, followed by a self-completion survey, administered using Dillman's Total\ud Design Method. Data from 600 woodland owners was subjected to a Factor and Cluster Analysis, with\ud the emergent model validated using Discriminant Analysis.\ud Six discrete private woodland owner types were revealed: Individualists, Multifunctional Owners,\ud Private Consumers, Conservationists, Investors and Amenity Owners. Important distinctions between\ud owner groups are associated with the likely provision of particular benefits and disbenefits, and the\ud classification suggests that a move from a production versus consumption/protection framework to one\ud that includes intersecting goals may be more appropriate. Policy implications are discussed to facilitate\ud use of the typology in targeting particular woodland owner groups with more nuanced policy\ud mechanisms, including incentive schemes, market mechanisms and advisory services.
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