, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 437-460
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Landowners Perceptions of Their Moral and Ethical Stewardship Responsibilities in New Brunswick, Canada, and Maine, USA

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Abstract

The province of New Brunswick (NB), Canada and the state of Maine (ME), USA are heavily forested jurisdictions whose forests provide many social, ecological, and economic functions. Roughly a third of NB and ME’s forested land is owned by private, non-industrial owners [sometimes called family forests or woodlot owners]. The choices of thousands of individual parcel owners of forest land determine the fate of these ecosystems. Ownership of forest land implies a social contract between the landowners and the rest of society. Previous research has focused on utilitarian conceptions of land use such as landowner rights and motivations. This study contributes to the discussion by inviting small-scale forest landowners in NB and ME to articulate their notions of landowner responsibilities. Through qualitative methods, this study ascertains participants’ self-reported behaviors that indicate their overall attitudes about the responsibility of forestland ownership. Respondents from both NB and ME expressed strong sentiments toward using and/or managing their land in ways they considered beneficial to both themselves and to the ecosystems in which they are embedded, or as Leopold (A sand county almanac: and sketches here and there. Oxford University Press, New York, 1949) described, the biotic community. Results varied with regard to responsibility to other entities such as: their immediate families, wildlife and the public or broader society. The results offer insight into what and who influences landowners and, what they value.