Date of Original Version
Encouraging family forest owners to create early successional habitat is a high priority for wildlife conservation agencies in the northeastern USA, where most forest land is privately owned. Many studies have linked regional declines in wildlife populations to the loss of early successional habitat. The government provides financial incentives to create early successional habitat, but the number of family forest owners who actively manage their forests remains low. Several studies have analyzed participation of family forest owners in federal forestry programs, but no study to date has focused specifically on creation of wildlife habitat. The objective of our study was to analyze the experience of a group of wildlife-oriented family forest owners who were trained to create early successional habitat. This type of family forest owners represents a small portion of the total population of family forest owners, but we believe they can play an important role in creating wildlife habitat, so it is important to understand how outreach programs can best reach them. The respondents shared some characteristics but differed in terms of forest holdings, forestry experience and interest in earning forestry income. Despite their strong interest in wildlife, awareness about the importance of early successional habitat was low. Financial support from the federal government appeared to be important in motivating respondents to follow up after the training with activities on their own properties: 84% of respondents who had implemented activities received federal financial support and 47% would not have implemented the activities without financial assistance. In order to mobilize greater numbers of wildlife-oriented family forest owners to create early successional habitat we recommend focusing outreach efforts on increasing awareness about the importance of early successional habitat and the availability of technical and financial assistance.
Buffum B, Modisette C, McWilliams SR. (2014). "Encouraging family forest owners to create early successional wildlife habitat in Southern New England." PLoS One. 9(2):e89972.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089972
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