Analyzing multiple worldviews of forestry : local perceptions of the 1994 fires on the Wenatchee National Forest, Washington Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7d278v95b

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  • In the social context, distinct worldviews provide multiple, subjective, durable and conflicting views of natural resource situations. This research analyzes worldviews that shape people's perceptions, understandings and evaluations of forests and forestry in order to examine conflict associated with forestry issues. Differences in local residents' views of wildland fires and the fire recovery management situation affecting three communities in north central Washington are explored. In addition, insights for facilitating worldview differences that inevitably surface in value-laden natural resource conflicts emerge from this study. Data was gathered through 122 semi-structured interviews; subjects represented diverse interests, attachments and ideologies relative to forestry. A key-informant and chain-referral selection strategy accessed social networks interested in forestry management issues. Qualitative data analysis identified issues salient to fire recovery management and themes characteristic of shared forest values. Five general views of fire recovery represented the relationships between the level of human intervention in forest management strategies and the level of risk affecting the ecosystem or neighboring communities. Levels of intervention were relatively tangible, but levels of risks varied by subjective definitions of desirability. The acceptability of specific forest management tactics could be traced to different values one places on the forest and worldviews through which one sees and understands the situation. These views of fire recovery were compared to an existing typology that focused on social relationships, cultural biases and general views of nature. The five views found in the data could be explained by four universal worldviews of nature. Worldviews evolve from individual cognition and social interaction. To the extent that worldviews are value based, they tend to be distinct and enduring because values are not easily changed. Conflict grounded in worldview differences is therefore often inevitable and unresolvable. However, collaborative conflict management provides natural resource professionals with tactics to facilitate discussion in the face of these differences and to generate improvements in the relationships and the conflict situations. Implications from this study suggest constructive conflict management and natural resource policy can accommodate worldview diversity.
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