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Family Forest Owners’ Conceptions of Biodiversity in the Oak Ecotype of Western Oregon A. Paige Fischer and John C. Bliss 4/1/04

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Paige Fischer Thesis Defense Tuesday, September 30 2:00PM Peavy 272. Family Forest Owners’ Conceptions of Biodiversity in the Oak Ecotype of Western Oregon A. Paige Fischer and John C. Bliss 4/1/04 IUFRO Human Dimensions of Small Scale Forestry Symposium . Photo: Greenbelt Landtrust.

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Paige Fischer Thesis Defense

Tuesday, September 30 2:00PM Peavy 272

Family Forest Owners’

Conceptions of Biodiversity

in the Oak Ecotype of Western Oregon

A. Paige Fischer and John C. Bliss 4/1/04

IUFRO Human Dimensions of Small Scale Forestry Symposium

Photo: Greenbelt Landtrust

research goals
Research Goals
  • To provide information on owners that may be crucial to the success of efforts to conserve at-risk ecotypes on private land.
  • To foster policy approaches to conserving at-risk ecotypes that build on the knowledge, motivations and capacities of owners.

Family forest owner = individuals and families that own forest-zoned land without processing infrastructure

Forest biodiversity = diversity in species compositions, structural conditions and processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales (Franklin, 1998; Noss, 1993).


Kincaid’s lupine

Lupinus sulphureus var. kincaidii

Wayside aster

Aster vialus

Golden paintbrush

Castilleja levisecta

Columbia white-tailed deer Odocileus virginianus leucurus

Western gray squirrel

Scuirus griseus

family forests

Family Forests

  • Private lands are home to 98% of oak woodland
  • Family forests compose 30% of private forestland in Oregon
  • Family forest owners manage for multiple objectives
  • Inductive
  • Random sample
  • Interdisciplinary
      • Concept mapping
      • Open-ended interviewing
      • Property-mapping
      • Field reconnaissance
distribution of q garryana on family forests
Distribution of Q. garryana on Family Forests








Junction City

(Atterbury Consultants, Inc., 1992)

study area
Study Area

Western Muddy Creek Watershed (Hulse et al., 2000)

summary of results
Summary of Results
  • Knowledgeable about biodiversity
  • Beliefs about role of humans in nature influence management
  • Timber markets constrain management intentions
knowledge diversity indicates a healthy forest
Knowledge Diversity indicates a healthy forest

I look at it as a whole forest environment, not just the trees. I’m trying to maintain the diversity in plants that’s there now as we introduce trees.

- Mary Harten, owner of 300 acres

contradiction between knowledge and behavior
“Contradiction” between knowledge and behavior
  • Multiple objectives must be negotiated
  • Socio-economic context encourages conifer production
  • Tenure system limits global view of biodiversity
beliefs humans as part of nature
BeliefsHumans as part of nature

“I just want our kids to understand that the most fun in our life was when we actually got to do the logging and watch the regrowth and go out and plant the trees and go through that part of the cycle…

…Even to us, it was ‘oh boy, we’re going to cut all the trees down’, it’s really kind of a sad thing, you think ‘oh, the poor tree, it’s been living here all this time and you’re going to have all this mess,’ but that’s just for the first winter, and after that it’s green already and things start popping up and, the growth and life, it’s so apparent. It’s just the process of life.”

- Dan Garvey, owner of 20 acres

beliefs nature benefits from human intervention
BeliefsNature benefits from human intervention

“Me, being small enough to work the edges in and tinker with it instead of having to go in and say ‘I’m going to clearcut this forty, I’m going to plant this forty.’ I can kind of play with it and adjust it as I go…

…It’s just more of a hands-on approach. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to come in and actually do the work. They may have the ground and they just send somebody in to do it. It’s totally different, doing it yourself on your own property.”

- Bud Parsons, owner of 600 acres

policy implications
Policy Implications
  • Willing to manage for non-traditional species and structures
  • Motivated to engage in intensive management program
  • Amenable to long-term plans and arrangements
  • Limited to individual ownership scale
policy considerations
Policy Considerations
  • Human-environment interactions are complex
  • Terms are politicized
  • External factors constrain management
future research
Future Research
  • Identify extent of family forestland is priority habitat types
  • Understand owners’ knowledge, motivations and capacities for managing for habitat characteristics
  • Identify intersections between the goals and rationales of owners and conservation organizations.
  • Propose ways to design conservation policies to meet the needs and take advantage of the capacities of owners
family forest policy
Family forest policy
  • Capacity tool
  • Tailored to individuals and families on ownership scale
  • Associates oak woodland with cultural heritage and game habitat
  • Equates oak management with caring for the land
  • Accommodates multiple motivations
  • Rewards with tax break
  • Implemented via extension or NGO, follow-up via remote technology
managing for diversity
Managing for Diversity

What is it about your forest that you get enjoyment from?

Diversity. That’s the big thing for me... I also like that it’s in the oak zone. We’ve both gotten enjoyment from that and we’ve selected for oaks…The more oak in the area, the more moss and lichens.

fear of endangered species
Fear of Endangered Species

Do you have any special plants or animals that are unique to this area?

We have no owls. And even if we do, we don’t.

political economy
Political economy

“Right now I don’t have a lot of comfort in the timber industry…The big people are kind of taking over and calling the shots…

…The hard decisions are the need for money, because you don’t want to cut the trees. You really hate to do that, I don’t care who you are, you like looking at the big old trees. You don’t want that tree to get so big that its no good anymore, but you don’t want to cut it unless you have to. But sometimes the old world dictates what you have to do.”

beliefs managing on the timescale of a forest
BeliefsManaging on the timescale of a forest

“I wonder if that isn’t why it’s harder for the general public to relate to forestry, because it’s a long-term type thing. You’re doing things that you won’t see the result of in your day and that’s awkward for people. They want to see something right now but that’s not the way it happens with trees….

“…If you haven’t seen it, you’ve heard it, you’ve heard your parents or grandparents describe what it was, or you’ve seen where they logged and now it’s a beautiful forest again.”