Public Perception

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Public Influences on Plantation Forestry

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For plantation forestry to be successful, it must be biologically possible, economically feasible, and culturally adoptable (i.e., socially acceptable). We discuss social acceptability and plantation forestry in the Pacific Northwest, stressing that social acceptability is a judgmental process that is both provisional and dependent on many complex factors, and that most decisions are based on intuition, rather than a rational evaluation of all relevant choices. We suggest that conflicts over plantation forestry can be minimized by carefully considering social acceptability and by forging formal agreements (accords) that promote the goals of both environmentalists and forest industries.

Attitudes towards forestry in the East Coast region

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The expansion of plantation forestry has often been a matter of concern to local communities. This concern is founded on the expectation of rural social change, including depopulation, declines in services, reduced employment, and loss of quality of life. Concerns like these have been expressed in regard to the planting programmes under the East Coast Forestry Project, which commenced in 1993. This paper reports on a survey of the attitudes of East Coast residents towards economic development in general, and forestry in particular. The survey reveals that many of the widely recognised social effects of land use change are of concern to people in the region. The survey also reveals, though, that there is a high level of support for forestry development. This support is based on expectations in regard to employment opportunities and long-term regional economic benefits.

Waiapu River Catchment Study

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This report presents the work undertaken on the Waiapu River Catchment Study, the purpose of which was to investigate the geophysical, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of the erosion problem in the Waiapu River catchment in order to inform future policy decisions with respect to the catchment in the context of the Deed of Settlement between Ngāti Porou and the Crown. The report includes:
1) An outline of existing knowledge related to the (i) geophysical and land use aspects and (ii) social, cultural, and economic aspects of erosion and land use change within the Waiapu River catchment and the wider East Coast region.
2) Identification of gaps in the existing knowledge apparent to the research team, and recommendations for addressing any gaps identified.
3) A description of a baseline from which future progress in the Waiapu catchment may be measured (benchmarking) for the (i) geophysical and land use aspects and (ii) social, cultural, and economic aspects of erosion against the values of Ngāti Porou for the catchment and well-being of the people.
4) An outline of the project team‘s interpretation of a desired state for Ngāti Porou and consideration of possible options for addressing the erosion problem.
5) Assessments of the scope (size and scale) of the erosion problem in the catchment and critical evaluations of the effectiveness of erosion mitigation measures for the (i) geophysical aspects and (ii) social, cultural, and economic aspects of erosion.

Gisborne/East Coast Field Research on Attitudes to Land Use Change: An Analysis of Impediments to Forest Sector Development

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As a component of research into ‘Socio-economic Adaptations to Emerging Markets’, an ethnographic field study into community attitudes to change in land use from farming to forestry has been undertaken. This study was conducted in the Gisborne and East Coast region of New Zealand from early May until late September 2000. During this study there was exposure to the multiple issues and opinions that surround forest sector development in the area. There is a very high recognition of the role of forestry as a growing industry in the region. However, the community as a whole does not uniformly support forest sector development. The focus of this report is on impediments to forest sector development. These include widely held beliefs from within the region that the community, workforce, infrastructures and land may not be able to fully support or benefit from the predicted industry growth.

New Zealand’s Perceptions of Primary Industry

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In this project the authors examine the literature available on two New Zealand case studies where conflict has arisen around policy initiatives. These are forestry
encouragement in the Gisborne/East Cape region and access to waterways. From these case studies the underlying values and reasons for conflict are identified. The authors compare the results with similar empirical research in Australia. The authors also describe theories from social psychology which can assist researchers by providing an understanding of the principles associated with group membership and intergroup rivalry. The report makes a number of conclusions.
· When the values and attitudes associated with each issue are compared they are found to be different between issues and between conflicting groups.
· The value conflicts between sections of society may have some relationship to peoples’ urban or rural situation, but a model based upon this would be too simplistic to be useful for formulating policy interventions.
· A policy model is proposed for understanding social conflict between Community Identity Groups (1-8). The model can be applied across a range of policy issues and
makes use of world views, trust in governance and social proximity.
· The proposed model has been tested against the case studies in this report and has shown a high degree of consistency.
· When some of the Community Identity Groups in the model find alignment with organisations, institutions and agencies they are able to have a strong political
influence upon policy outcomes.

Public perceptions of natural character and implications for the forest sector

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This article presents results from a number of studies of public perceptions of natural character in New Zealand to show that there are two fundamental positions - 'pure nature' and 'cultured nature'. It measures the proportions of these viewpoints in the Gisborne East Coast population and finds that there is 67 per cent support for the cultured nature viewpoint. Assuming that this is an indication of how the wider New Zealand population would respond to the same stimuli, the article discusses the results in terms of implications for extensive land uses such as forestry, and in terms of how forestry could best respond to a preference for land uses to be natural.