More than half of the forests in the United States are privately owned, especially in the Eastern part of the country. This can make controlling invasive species challenging, as efforts must be coordinated by many different landowners. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign looks at how family forest landowners in Maine and New Hampshire approach invasive species management and what factors influence it. their decisions.
“We have mostly public land on the West Coast and privately owned family forestland in the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard. Private landowners have different preferences, so what happens when collective action to manage invasive species?” asked Shadi Atallah, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, about the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in Illinois.
There are three main categories of private family landowners in the forest, Atallah stated. There are recreational landowners who primarily want to enjoy the land; owners seeking supplemental income from timber; and others seeking to combine entertainment and income opportunities. Each group has different priorities and motivations for managing their forests, and this has implications for policy makers.
Atallah is the lead author of the study, which focuses on glossy buckthorn control in eastern white pine forests. It is an exotic and invasive species that can cause many problems if not managed.
“Shiny buckthorn can grow as tall as a person so it obstructs recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. It also inhibits the ability of the white pine forest to grow naturally. -or, because it will shade the juvenile trees and limit. Their growth. Therefore, it is an economic problem and a problem for the provision of ecosystem services, “said Atallah.
Researchers conducted a survey with 939 forest owners in Maine and New Hampshire to measure preferences, motivations, and willingness to pay for glossy buckthorn control on their land. Respondents also received an information brochure about the intruder, explaining identification, problems, and control methods.
The survey was designed as a choice experiment, where respondents were presented with a series of different situations and asked to make hypothetical choices for managing options and outcomes. Options vary in ecosystem service benefits (trail recreation, wildlife, timber), control methods (mechanical or chemical), neighborhood adoption rate, and cost. Each respondent received a random combination of options.
Current conservation cost-share programs in the region reimburse landowners for up to 75% of the cost of controlling invasive species. According to the survey results, this is enough to encourage mechanical but not chemical control.
“We found that the owners of family forest land have a strong preference for mechanical control methods, even if they are more expensive and less effective. In fact, the owners have a negative willingness to pay for chemical control, which means that they must be paid to use this method,” said Atallah.
Generally, landowners prefer control options that increase timber turnover and wildlife viewing. Owners of large tracts of forest land are also encouraged to control invasive species to promote recreational activities along the trail.
The researchers discovered that the owners of small forests were greatly influenced by what their neighbors did. Neighborhood impacts are significant for those who own less than 26 hectares, which is 80% of all landowners in the area.
“We’ve shown that it increases a landowner’s willingness to pay for control if their neighbor does the same.
Conservation agencies can take advantage of this finding, he said.
“Because this problem is in a region with a lot of private land, there is an opportunity to build a neighborhood effect,” he said. “For example, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or Cooperative Extension can provide information to landowners about the level of control in their neighborhood to increase their possibility to act. the management of the entire area of invasive species. ”
The strong preference of forest owners for mechanical control also has policy implications.
“We have these environmental preferences that can lead to the spread of invasive species because mechanical controls are less effective than chemical methods. “The core of the problem is how to balance the changes between of landowner preferences, available treatment methods, and the health of the forest as an ecosystem that can benefit from the removal of non-native, invasive plants.”
Atallah is currently working on a research project to estimate the changes, which can provide guidelines for conservation agencies looking to develop management strategies.
Shady S. Atallah et al, Family forest landowner preferences for invasive species management: Control strategies, ecosystem services, and neighborhood impacts, Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (2023). DOI: 10.1002/jaa2.60
Awarded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Citation: What motivates family forest landowners to manage invasive species? (2023, July 17) retrieved 17 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-family-forest-landowners-invasive-species.html
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