New directions?: the role of landowner and forestry consultant values in Ontario's private woodland management
The conservation of privately owned woodlots must be a key component of any attempt to preserve and protect Ontario's wooded landscape, particularly in the southern portions of the province. As a result of the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program much of the province's conservation effort has become dependent on the relationships between private landowners and the forestry consultants they hire to design management plans for their woodlots. If woodlot conservation is to be successful, a necessary first step is to develop a clear understanding of the attitudes and values that both groups have towards woodlot management and how this relationship is expressed in management plans. Research into the application of these values shows that while there are a few significant areas of departure, forestry consultants are designing management plans that are generally consistent with landowner needs and values. Additionally, given the range of values that have been incorporated into management plans, it can be speculated that a low majority of woodlot management in Ontario is holistic in nature, a fact that bodes well for the ecological health of these lands. Landowner interest in conservation, however, although strongly rooted in personal interest is also driven by tax and other financial rewards for such behaviours, which suggests that if reward programs such as the Managed Forest Program were to erode, the future of Ontario's woodlots might look significantly different.