Visitor Preferences for Visual Changes in Bark Beetle-Impacted Forest Recreation Settings in the United States and Germany

Arne Arnberger, Martin Ebenberger, Ingrid E. Schneider, Stuart Cottrell, Alexander C. Schlueter, Eick von Ruschkowski, Robert C. Venette, Stephanie A. Snyder, Paul H. Gobster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extensive outbreaks of tree-killing insects are increasing across forests in Europe and North America due to climate change and other factors. Yet, little recent research examines visitor response to visual changes in conifer forest recreation settings resulting from forest insect infestations, how visitors weigh trade-offs between physical and social forest environment factors, or how visitor preferences might differ by nationality. This study explored forest visitor preferences with a discrete choice experiment that photographically simulated conifer forest stands with varying levels of bark beetle outbreaks, forest and visitor management practices, and visitor use levels and compositions. On-site surveys were conducted with visitors to State Forest State Park in Colorado (n = 200), Lake Bemidji State Park in Minnesota (n = 228), and Harz National Park in Germany (n = 208). Results revealed that the condition of the immediate forest surrounding was the most important variable influencing visitors’ landscape preferences. Visitors preferred healthy mature forest stands and disliked forests with substantial dead wood. The number of visitors was the most important social factor influencing visitor landscape preferences. Differences in the influence of physical and social factors on visual preferences existed between study sites. Findings suggest that both visual forest conditions and visitor use management are important concerns in addressing landscape preferences for beetle-impacted forest recreation areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental management
Volume61
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge some financial support from the Colorado State Forest Service for access to the park and funding for data collection and the National Science Foundation Grant Award WSC–1204460. Similar thank you to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for site access. In-kind support was provided by the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station. The University of Minnesota Tourism Center, Carlson Chair for Travel, Tourism & Hospitality provided funding for data collection. Open access funding provided by University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU).

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge some financial support from the Colorado State Forest Service for access to the park and funding for data collection and the National Science Foundation Grant Award WSC?1204460. Similar thank you to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for site access. In-kind support was provided by the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station. The University of Minnesota Tourism Center, Carlson Chair for Travel, Tourism & Hospitality provided funding for data collection. Open access funding provided by University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Bark beetles
  • Cross-national comparison
  • Forest landscape preferences
  • Natural processes
  • Viewing distance
  • Visitor numbers

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