Forest Practices Branch

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The public response to harvest practices in British Columbia at the landscape and stand level

Author(s) or contact(s): BC Ministry of Forests and Range
Source: Forest Practices Branch
Subject: Visual Resource Management
Series: Recreation
Other details:  Published 2006. Hardcopy is available.


The Ministry of Forests and Range (MoFR) is responsible for managing forested viewscapes on Crown land - areas visible along major travel corridors, and adjacent to towns, resorts, and recreation areas. To understand and quantify public acceptance of alteration of the forest scenery, we presented photographs of forested scenes to small groups in a survey format. Clearcut harvesting was surveyed in 1996, selection harvesting in 1997, and dispersed and aggregated retention harvesting in 2002. Each survey focused on a particular silvicultural system, and measured acceptance of mid-distance, landscape views.

In 2003, the MoFR undertook a further, integrated survey of the public acceptance of forest alteration. This survey included the full range of silvicultural systems, and included both landscape and in-stand views. Residents in eight British Columbia communities, and passengers on the Queen of the North ferry, were surveyed. They were shown 66 landscape and seven in-stand photographs of post-harvest forested scenes, and asked to rate each photograph according to their acceptance of the scenery. Participants included 714 British Columbia residents and 181 tourists visiting from elsewhere. The in-stand views were also surveyed by 22 executives and 51 foresters. The findings of the survey are:

- People prefer natural forest scenes to scenes modified by timber harvesting.
- There is a strong correlation between the defined Visual Quality Classes used in the MoFR classification system and public acceptance of forest viewscape alteration.
- Tourists are less accepting of forest harvesting than are British Columbia residents, and the general public is less accepting of forest harvesting than are forestry professionals.
- People prefer the visual impact of selection harvesting to variable retention or clearcutting. People are accepting of harvesting if at least 24% of the trees remain on site.
- At the same scale of alteration, people prefer harvest openings with good visual design.
- Viewing from within the forest stand, people strongly prefer dispersed tree retention to clearcut or patch retention.
- Patch cuts are well received in landscape view but not well received in-stand.

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Updated May 29, 2009