Place, loss, and landowner response to the restoration of a rapidly changing forest landscape

Paul H. Gobster, Ella Weber, Kristin M. Floress, Ingrid E. Schneider, Anna L. Haines, Arne Arnberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Landscape change occurs as a result of both human and natural forces. When changes are abrupt and drastic, they can negatively impact people who had become attached to a landscape's prior character. Place-based models of landscape change assert that the strength of people's attachments can influence their experience of and response to change. We apply a qualitative deductive-inductive approach to examine rapid change experienced by family forest owners in the northern Great Lakes region of the U.S. (N = 17), whose densely forested property was in the path of a major windstorm and near an ongoing pine barrens restoration. Through in-depth interviews we found that landowners had a strong sense of place for the Northwoods, a culturally-constructed landscape character of big trees and continuous canopy of relatively recent origin in our study area. This sense of place acted as a lens through which they experienced multiple and sometimes cumulative drivers of change resulting in a spectrum of losses, including solastalgia. Sense of place affected how they responded to change on their own property, with most wanting to assist or let “Mother Nature take its course” in returning the land to its Northwoods character rather than its more open, ecologically-based conditions. Responses to the pine barrens restoration ranged from negative to somewhat positive, with those expressing positive feelings mentioning aesthetic, ecological, and functional reasons. Implications for management and place-based model development are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104382
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Research Joint Venture Agreement 17-JV-11242309-037 between the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Minnesota. We thank John Lampereur of the USDA Forest Service for assistance with the study, and Bill Stewart of the University of Illinois and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Landscape change models
  • Landscape character
  • Meanings of restoration
  • Pine barrens
  • Sense of place
  • Solastalgia


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