UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Factors influencing public support for managing the mountain pine beetle epidemic Berheide, Daniel W.


The mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic is the largest recorded outbreak in British Columbia’s history currently covering almost 10 percent of British Columbia’s 9.2 million hectares of forest. The problems it poses are not merely ecological but also social and economic. An evaluation of the public’s perceptions of mountain pine beetle management alternatives provides decision-makers with information needed to reduce conflicts, identify communication priorities, and make balanced decisions concerning the use and recovery of affected areas. A survey was administered to 312 respondents, half in Prince George, a more forest-dependent community, and half in Kelowna, a less forest-dependent one. While this research found considerable public support for increased harvesting, it did not vary by location even though the residents of Prince George, the more forest-dependent community, were more concerned about the economic impact of the MPB than the residents of Kelowna. Concern for the economic impact of the MPB was not associated with support for harvesting. In contrast, the residents of Prince George reported greater knowledge, which was associated with support for harvesting. Finally, holding an ecological modernization viewpoint was not associated with location but it was associated with support for harvesting. Although respondents in the two study areas were concerned with the economic impact of the mountain pine beetle, the driver for supporting increased harvesting appeared to be a belief that human intervention can solve environmental problems. This research demonstrates the value of an examination of the social determinants of public support for strategies for managing natural disturbances in the policy making process.

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