Taking account of values in forest management

Doreen Smith, Peter Miller, Judith Harris and Bob Fenton 1


Globally emergent models of sustainable forest management (SFM) strive to create forest practices that maintain the health and diversity and the multiple values of forests, while exploiting their benefits. For example, Manitoba's Forest Plan contends that "People's values are one cornerstone of ecosystems based management of forests". As part of a recent pilot project in Manitoba, Canada, the authors formed a "Values Team" mandated to explore and implement several methods of values elicitation pertinent to forest management. This paper reports on selected results from one of the methodologies employed, namely a province-wide values survey.

The paper has three main sections: a theoretical framework, a presentation of findings from three value scales (B-Scale, C-Scale, and F-Scale), and suggested implications for resource managers. Following a brief introduction, the first section outlines our understanding of values and related concepts, such as attitudes, and attempts to articulate how we envision their operation in human affairs, especially decision-making. The second section of the paper profiles the values of a sample of people in the Province of Manitoba. Respondents (n=710) were asked to complete three value scales that were designed to elicit three levels of valuation: ecological values, forest values, and attitudes toward forest management options. The responses to these scales are reported and discussed briefly. The third section of the paper draws implications from the findings and urges resource managers to take these into account in planning and decision-making.


All management is value-guided. Managers attempt to control or influence people, organizations or ecosystems to achieve some outcomes [e.g. maximum sustainable timber yield], assumed to be good or valuable, and to avoid others [e.g. fires], thought to be bad or of negative value. Responding to criticisms that the governing value set was too narrow, globally emergent models of sustainable forest management (SFM) strive to create forest practices that maintain the health and diversity and the multiple values of forests while exploiting their benefits. Thus, for example, Manitoba's Forest Plan asserts:

People's values are one cornerstone of ecosystems based management of forests. Understanding the values associated with the states [e.g. roadless wilderness], services [e.g. carbon sequestration and water filtration] and goods [e.g. timber, blueberries, and game] produced by the forests is a prerequisite to defining and implementing management practices (KPMG 1996, I-4).2

Broadening the value base for forest management creates new requirements for information on social realities and values and the capacity to interpret these and manage responsively. As part of a recent pilot project towards ecosystems based management (EBM) in Manitoba, the authors formed a "values team" to explore and implement several methods of values elicitation pertinent to forest management. We here report selected results from the survey portion of that study under three headings: What are values and how do they function in human affairs?; Manitobans' values; and lessons for management.

What are values and how do they function in human affairs?

SFM, as expressed in the Canada Forest Accord, stretches valuations of nature beyond the human-centered by affirming the goal "to maintain and enhance the long-term health of our forest ecosystems, for the benefit of all living things..." (CCFM 1998). Hence one task of an ecologically relevant account of values is to map psycho-social values rooted in human awareness with values embedded in nature. Figure 1 presents a human-centered map of ecological values, which represents independently valuable natural phenomena on the right, a sphere of specifically human values on the left, with value relationships between. The top arrow signifies the wide variety of interests that people take in nature, and the bottom arrow represents "nature's services" (Daily 1997) contributory to our well-being, of which we may be ignorant.

Figure 2 focuses on specifically human-centered values and valuing. In the center we distinguish two primary dimensions of valuing. Conceptions of value or held values, are part of a person's value orientations and philosophy of life - what one tells oneself is most important. Values and value orientations can be classified in various ways. We distinguish personal (ideals for oneself), social (ideals for a good society), and ecological (criteria for evaluating better and worse states of nature) value clusters. Each set has both instrumental and terminal values (means and ends).

But valuing is not just a conceptual exercise, a person is embedded in a network of valuing relationships with people, other creatures and things, and states of society and nature. We distinguish three intertwined modes of valuing: affective (desires and emotions - what one wants, likes, loves or hates); purposive (awareness of objects and actions that help or hinder achieving ones goals); and cognitive (value judgments which link conceptions of value to the world).

Adding to the complexity of valuing, we note, in the outermost columns, that values and valuing relationships express themselves in a variety of ways, such as actions, symbols, and institutions. (Figure 1-left column). The modes of publicity (right column) indicate the stances a person can take towards others in their valuing, either keeping it private or hidden, revealing ones valuations to others (public valuing), sharing values and attitudes with others (social valuing), or prescribing that others ought to realize values as a matter of moral duty, social norms or law.

Finally, Figure 3 represents some of the causal and functional contexts of value phenomena. Current states of the world, societies, and personalities (in the center) have multiple causes nested under the formative history on the left. When an individual (with her values, character, and attitudes) acts (right column), she may deliberate to form intentions relevant to her perceived social and ecological context. Her values can affect her attitudes, deliberation, and perceptions. In our research, we obtained data on the circled components of the diagram. We here report on respondents' held values and attitudes.

According to commonly accepted models of social-psychological action theory, human personalities and cultures are partially defined by the general value orientations that they exemplify. A value orientation consists of general beliefs and values held with respect to oneself and one's world, guiding one's approach to life expressed in feelings, thoughts and action. The concept of a value orientation is applied with varying degrees of generality. At the most abstract and inclusive level, a value orientation is synonymous with a worldview or outlook on life. On the other hand, we can speak of value orientations in relation to specific domains of self, society, and nature (as distinguished in Figure 2). A related concept is the notion of an attitude, which consists of more specific beliefs and valuations of persons, things, practices and events in ones social and bio-physical environment (the top arrow in Figure 1 and valuing relationships in Figure 2).

Attitudes are more susceptible to change as previous attitudes towards a particular person or object are challenged by new experience or information. Psychologists think that, for a personality to be a coherent whole, particular attitudes must be at least partially congruent with more general value orientations. And also, that general values orientations guide the formation of attitudes in new situations with new experience and new information. Thus, human personalities, and the human cultures they make up through shared social valuations, are:

This theoretical background guided the construction of the General Population Survey reported here. We wanted to capture elements of Manitobans' most general value orientations, including their personal, social and ecological value orientations and their more specific orientation towards forests.

Manitobans' values

Our mandate was to try out methods of values elicitation pertaining to Ecoregion 90 in Manitoba, 3.8 million hectares of boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg. Two thirds of this area is roadless "wilderness" containing five First Nations and three Métis communities. We report here on global results of three components of a survey of Manitobans.

The survey contained three "value scales," tapping differing levels of value measurement from more general to more specific. The Inventory of Values Scale (A-Scale) elicited global values, general principles guiding one's life; the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (B-Scale) focused on environmental values, and the Forest Values Scale (C-Scale) evoked values people hold about forests and their uses. A fourth, Forest Management Scale (F-Scale) identified attitudes about forest management issues in Ecoregion 90. This paper reports results from the B-Scale, C-Scale and F-Scale. For these scales, respondents rate basic statements on a 5-point scale, ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," with a "don't know" option as well.

Ecological Values: B-Scale

B-Scale uses the 15 value items from the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (NEP Scale) developed and revised by Dunlap and his colleagues (1992) over a span of fourteen years. The NEP measures generalized beliefs about the nature of human-environment interactions. Twelve of the statements focus on the present or future state of the biophysical environment, including statements about humanity's relationship with nature and about the character of the physical and biological world itself. The other three items make statements about the relative rights of humans.

The value items were ranked by the percentage of the respondents strongly agreeing with the statements. The percentages range from a high of 57 percent to a low of 4 percent. Note that over half (57 percent) of respondents strongly agree that "Plants and animals have as much right to exist as people." Thus, over half strongly agree to the equality of existence value between plants and animals and people. Also, almost half (47 percent) strongly agree with item B13 "The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset" and B3 "When people interfere with nature it often produces disastrous consequences" (46 percent). In addition, it is noteworthy that 44 percent of respondents strongly agree that "humans are surely abusing their environment."

At the other end of the spectrum, only 5 percent of the respondents strongly agree with the following three items: B2 "People have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs;" B10 "The so-called `ecological crisis' facing humankind has been greatly exaggerated;" and B14 "People will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it." Two of these statements show a lack of support for the idea of human intervention (B2 and B14) and B10 contends that society is facing an ecological crisis, the magnitude of which has not been unduly exaggerated. Also only 4 percent of our respondents strongly agree with B8 "The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations." Thus, the strong disagreement with this statement reinforces the idea expressed in B13 that the balance of nature is very fragile and not able to withstand the impacts of modern industrial nations.

Forest Values: C-Scale

In order to assess value orientations about forests, respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement with 15 statements concerning various aspects of forests and their potential uses.

The percentage distribution for the Forest Values Scale (C-Scale) reveals two very strong responses: 84 percent of respondents "strongly agree" with the existence value expressed by item C1 "Whether or not I get to visit the forest, it is important to know that forests exist in Manitoba." And 81 percent "strongly agree" with the bequest value expressed by item C10: "It is important to maintain our forests so that future generations will enjoy the same benefits that we enjoy." Clearly most respondents want to preserve forests and pass them on intact as part of a legacy for future generations.

The neutral third rank received the highest proportion of choices, 27 percent, only in the case of C5 "As many uses should be made of forested public land as possible." This statement also achieved one of the highest levels of "don't know" at 8 percent. In other words, they might be indicating that it depends on the type of uses proposed.

The forest value items were also ranked by the percentage of respondents strongly agreeing with the statements. The percentages range from a high of 84 percent for item C1 (see above) and a low of 5 percent for item C7 "Forests should be used primarily for timber, wood and paper products." A closer examination reveals that the eight top-ranked items are biocentric in orientation, agreeing with spiritual and existence values and the rights of forests and other species to exist for their own sake, and the five bottom-ranked items are human-centred. Although the most, nine of the fifteen items, emanate from the biocentric perspective, the definite split in ranking in the direction of biocentrism among these respondents is noteworthy.

Forest Management Scale: F-Scale

The Forest Management Scale, or F-Scale, is an attitudes survey about forest management issues in Ecoregion 90. The goal was to obtain information about specific issues in the context actually found in the ecoregion.

Nine of the nineteen scale items have a predominantly Economic Orientation and the remainder an Environment Orientation. All of the items were chosen because their subject matter was relevant to issues under discussion in Ecoregion 90. It was important to see what the response of the public was to these items.

The percentage distribution of responses about views on forest management was examined. The largest single response of 65 percent who "strongly agree" that "Forests should be managed to ensure healthy populations of all wild species of trees, other plants, animals, and other living things" again reflects a strong existence value for wildlife and natural landscapes. The "don't know" is one of the lowest and the "agree" factor totals 89 percent if we sum level 4 and level 5. The "disagree" factor totals 3 percent if we sum level 1 and level 2. Another example of existence values again being displayed occurs in item F19: "Recreation activities should be restricted to limit their effects on ecosystems and wildlife." This statement achieved a total agreement level of 64 percent, split evenly between "strongly agree" and "agree." 11 percent disagreed.

Protection, or advancement, of the forest industry at a cost to the ecosystem is not acceptable, based on the responses shown. In item F15: "Tree harvesting methods should maximize economic returns regardless of their impact on other of forest values and uses," 53 percent of respondents "strongly disagreed" while another 24 percent "disagreed" for a total of 77 percent. Similarly in item F5, "Survival of the forest industry and possible expansion of jobs are more important than preservation of wilderness in Ecoregion 90," 38 percent "strongly disagreed" and 31 percent "disagreed" totaling 69 percent in disagreement.

On the other hand, sustainable forest management is endorsed in the response to item F11: "Logging forests is acceptable if it does not cause permanent damage." The overall agreement level with the statement was 61 percent including a "strongly agree" level of 23 percent.

These value items were also ranked by the percentage of respondents strongly agreeing with the statements. The percentages range from a high of 65 percent for item F6 (above) and a low of 3 percent for item F5: "Survival of the forest industry and the possible expansion of jobs are more important than preservation of wilderness in ER90." A closer examination reveals that the top ranked nine items are environmental in orientation and the bottom ranked ten items are economic, except for F10: "The forests and landscapes of ER90 should be managed by the communities they surround," which is labeled environmental but really has a social orientation.

Implications of the results for resource managers

The Ecosystem and Forest Values Survey provides an opportunity to identify values of a broad-based sample of Manitobans as of January-February 2000. Given the size of the sample (710 respondents), the results can be interpreted as those of a "typical Manitoban." These results provide guidance to resource managers currently grappling with critical issues and the increasing demands of publicly accountable decision-making.

The preliminary analysis of ecological values (B-Scale), forest values (C-Scale) and attitudes toward forest management (F-Scale) indicate that Manitobans are interested in and concerned about the environment, nature and ecosystems. The most important message comes from the consistency of the values expressed across the range of exercises. Themes that appear at the more general levels (e.g., ecological) are maintained as the discussion becomes more specific (e.g., forest values and attitudes toward management in Ecoregion 90).

Common themes seem to be the importance of maintaining wilderness and natural forested ecosystems providing a range of habitats for plants and animals including people as traditional resource users. The economic development potential of Ecoregion 90 via industrial resource development (forestry, mining and hydro-electric) did not rate highly with Manitobans either at a general level or at a level specific to the ecoregion.

In the analysis of these value scales, Manitobans show biocentric or environmental orientations on general ecosystem issues and forest ecosystem management issues. These orientations appear more strongly than the human-centred or economic alternatives.

Manitobans also endorse management strategies that encompass broad ecosystem issues rather than focusing on individual components of the ecosystem. Again, this endorsement occurred at all levels: general ecosystems, forested ecosystems, and Ecoregion 90 forest management plans.

More specifically, the analysis of the results from C-Scale on forest values and F-Scale on attitudes about forest management contain several points that should be of paramount interest for resource managers. In summary, resource managers should take into account the following forest values and management attitudes expressed by Manitobans. The letters and numbers in parenthesis identify the value and management statements related to the observation.

In summary, resource mangers should take into account the following forest values and management attitudes expressed by Manitobans:


Ecosystems Based Management calls on participants in the planning process to become familiar with value phenomena and the expanding range of options for values elicitation. The values team concluded that "there is no simple cookbook for grabbing people's values and plugging them into a plan" (Fenton et al., 2001:V-10). However, the findings from the Manitoba study reinforce the theoretical assertion that values information derived from a variety of elicitation techniques can contribute to planning and management that reconciles citizen expectations and ecological capacity.


Figure 1: A human-centered view of ecological values

Figure 3: A causal and functional model of values and action

1 Centre for Forest Interdisciplinary Research (C-FIR), University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B2E9. [email protected]

2 Note: This version of the paper has been stripped of footnotes, references, and tables to meet the word limit set by conference organizers. For a complete version of the paper, contact the lead author.