Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 117–133 | Cite as

Sustainable Forest Management Preferences of Interest Groups in Three Regions with Different Levels of Industrial Forestry: An Exploratory Attribute-Based Choice Experiment

  • Kati Berninger
  • Wiktor Adamowicz
  • Daniel Kneeshaw
  • Christian Messier


The challenge of sustainable forest management is to integrate diverse and sometimes conflicting management objectives. In order to achieve this goal, we need a better understanding of the aspects influencing the preferences of diverse groups and how these groups make trade-offs between different attributes of SFM. We compare the SFM preferences of interest groups in regions with different forest use histories based on the reasoning that the condition of the forest reflects the forest use history of the area. The condition of the forest also shapes an individual’s forest values and attitudes. These held values and attitudes are thought to influence SFM preferences. We tested whether the SFM preferences vary amongst the different interest groups within and across regions. We collected data from 252 persons using a choice experiment approach, where participants chose multiple times among different options described by a combination of attributes that are assigned different levels. The novelty of our approach was the use of choice experiments in the assessment of regional preference differences. Given the complexity of inter-regional comparison and the small sample size, this was an exploratory study based on a purposive rather than random sample. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the aggregation of preferences of all individuals within a region does not reveal all information necessary for forest management planning since opposing viewpoints could cancel each other out and lead to an interpretation that does not reflect possibly polarised views. Although based on a small sample size, the preferences of interest groups within a region are generally statistically significantly different from each other; however preferences of interest groups across regions are also significantly different. This illustrates the potential importance of assessing heterogeneity by region and by group.


Sustainable forest management Environmental economics Preference elicitation Stated preference Trade offs Heterogeneity of preferences 



We thank all participants and the persons who made this research possible: Timo Weckroth from the Regional Forestry Centre of Southeastern Finland; Nadyre Beaulieu from AbitibiBowater in Shawinigan Quebec; Neal Simon and Frank Phillips from the NL Department of Natural Resources; Valerie Courtois from the Innu Nation and Bryn Wood from the Labrador Metis Nation. We thank the anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and Mélanie Desrochers for her help with maps. We also thank the Sustainable Forest Management Network, the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat Fund and the Finnish Cultural Foundation for funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kati Berninger
    • 1
  • Wiktor Adamowicz
    • 2
  • Daniel Kneeshaw
    • 1
  • Christian Messier
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Étude de la ForêtMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Rural EconomyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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