The Effects of Forest Policy Change on Forest Management Practices and Forestation in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada
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Earth’s forests provide many benefits and services to people and yet human land-use patterns have greatly altered the forest landscape on a global scale, reducing the quantity and quality of forest resources. Land-use patterns and processes in forested environments are the byproduct of people’s perceptions of the forest and its values, human behaviors that modify the forest, and policies that regulate these behaviors. In the Pacific Northwest, USA, and British Columbia, Canada, differences in people’s perceptions of the forest and it’s values has resulted in changes to forest management policies in both regions. This dissertation examines the relationships between changing policies in the PNW and BC and changes in management practices and forest manager perceptions of forest resource management, and it will examine and compare how these changes contribute to forest distribution patterns in different ecological settings utilizing observations of natural resource management conferences, content analysis of semi-structured interviews with forestry professionals, and analyses of forest canopy cover change in sample regions of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia utilizing ERDAS Imagine and ArcGIS technologies. The observations of conferences provide a general indication of three recurring topics of importance to forest management in both regions: management techniques and approaches, stakeholder relationships, and ecosystem protection. Content analysis revealed changing perspectives and practices amongst forest managers, though the changes observed depended to some extent on whether the professional worked within a public agency or with private industry. The analyses of canopy cover changes revealed a loss of forest canopy over the course of the study time frame, but the losses were not equally distributed between owner and tenure classes. Policy implementation did seem to affect changes to canopy cover for the policy’s targeted owner or tenure class. This research contributes to a better understanding of the interactions between human systems and ecosystems.