WP5 – Social Acceptance

Social acceptance and stakeholder expectations of intensively cultivated forests
It has been shown that policies and practices lacking societal acceptance and approval will ultimately fail, even if they are profitable and supported by sound science (Shindler et al., 2004). Hence social acceptance of the intensification of management and the wood products generated from such practice will be needed. At the same time there will be a need to demonstrate that such approaches are sustainable and can also deliver on the environmental and social pillars of sustainable forest management. Aside from the importance of social acceptability of the practice of intensifying forest management the social acceptability of the wood output of such a practice is worthy of investigation. If the wood derived from these intensively managed forests is be used, particularly in the construction industry, the general public and professionals involved in the construction industry need to assured of the quality of the wood.

Objectives of this WP

  • Assess the social acceptability of intensification of forest practices and investigate the factors that influence it.
  • Assess stakeholders’ expectations regarding wood quality and quantity from intensively managed forests.
  • Raise stakeholder awareness of the technical capabilities of timber from intensively managed forests.

Social acceptance of intensive forestry practices

Investigate the social acceptability of intensifying forestry practices. As part of this process the knowledge of the general public of forestry practices and their attitudes towards an intensification of these practices will be explored. The factors that influence their knowledge and attitudes issues will be also investigated. This is necessary as social acceptability has been shown to be influenced by a range of factors including prior experiences, personal values, social norms, knowledge about the problem, the quality of information received, beliefs about the fairness of outcomes or decision processes, trust in decision-makers, and risk perceptions (Shindler et al., 2004). One of the direct outputs of this task will be a ranking of intensification practices along a social acceptability continuum. Intensification can be achieved through numerous avenues; hence it will be of direct relevance to policy makes to identify which route will maximise social acceptance. Surveys of a random sample of the general public will be conducted and indicators (Assefa and Frostell, 2007) used to measure social acceptability.

Comparison of the social acceptability of intensification of forest management in Ireland and France

Acceptability judgements are affected by the geographic context in which a proposed action is to occur. Practices and conditions acceptable in one situation are not necessarily acceptable in another – even when the problem being addressed is the same as that encountered elsewhere. This element of this work package will compare social acceptability in Ireland and France and the underlying basis to any differences that emerge. A cross comparison of the results of the surveys of the public will be used to inform this task.

Investigation of stakeholders’ perceptions of the role of wood in construction

In contrast to Scandinavia and North America where there are high levels of timber use in construction, timber use in western and central Europe remains low. Hence there already evidence of a lack of general acceptability of wood in construction. It is anticipated that an intensification of forest management might heighten these concerns. This task will investigate stakeholders’ perceptions of the role of wood in construction. It will also explore their expectations regarding the future wood supply and wood quality form intensively management forest stands. Interviews with key stakeholders will be conducted in this task.