Rapid and significant changes in British Columbia are greatly affecting the province's forest sector and are leading to an increased demand for reliable, science-based information. To help guide forestry extension programming in the province over the next 5 years, FORREX Forest Research Extension Partnership (FORREX) staff, in partnership with the Forest Investment Account - Forest Science Program, conducted a survey of clients, partners, and contacts. This web-based survey was designed to: (1) identify perceptions regarding the need for forestry extension in British Columbia; (2) characterize information gaps that exist within the forest sector; (3) identify barriers to the incorporation of new information; (4) evaluate information sources and forestry extension services; and (5) seek recommendations regarding the future of forestry extension.
In August 205, a 26-question survey was e-mailed to 1368 potential respondents who were selected from the forrex client database. Using a stratified random sampling method, respondents were chosen from nine groups (academia, consultants, federal government, provincial government, First Nations government, major licensees, municipal government, non-government organizations, and "other"). A response rate of 22% was achieved with this survey instrument; the calculated maximum error was 5.4% at a 95% confidence level.
All groups agreed that the need for extension services is greater now than it has been in the past 10 years. The greatest perceived barriers to incorporating science into management and decision-making were the lack of formal organizational processes, the profit focus of land managers, and the lack of time and funding to attend extension events. A majority indicated that extension should be paid by some ratio of public funds and cost recovery, although this ratio was not agreed upon. The operational community indicated a preference for accessible, concise information delivered in a timely fashion that does not require significant investments of time to absorb and incorporate. Overall, this survey showed that there is no "one size fits all" approach for forestry extension services. A goal of future extension could best be described in the succinct words of one respondent, "Keep it relevant and bring the newfound information to the user quickly."
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Updated July 25, 2007