Oak conservation and restoration on private forestlands: negotiating a social-ecological landscape

Knoot, T.G., L. A. Schulte, and M. Rickenbach. 2010. Oak conservation and restoration on private forestlands: negotiating a social-ecological landscape. Environmental Management 45: 155-164

Oak savannas, which provide critical habitat for other flora and fauna, within North America are decreasing at a rapid rate due to poor regeneration. In many areas in the United States, oak regeneration has been targeted as an important land management goal. However, in the Midwest natural resource professionals are finding it difficult to implement restoration practices because most of the land is privately owned and landowners aren’t always receptive to restoration practices. Knoot et al. conducted interviews of multiple natural resource professionals to identify the social challenges as well as the ecological challenges involved in oak restoration.

The assessment conducted by Knoot et al (2010) should be an integral part of restoration projects, as socio-economic factors often constrain the implementation of restoration practices. It is important to know the fiscal, social and personal reasons why certain landowners have an aversion to restoration. While the responses of the professionals were insightful, it would have been nice to see parallel interviews with the landowners. For, it is the landowners who could provide the correct insights to what sort of incentives and programs would have to be in place for them to consider oak restoration practices on their land. It seemed from this article that landowners did not have a clear understanding of the importance of oak forests aside from aesthetics, which brings up the reoccurring question from our discussions: “What is the restoration goal?” It seems that answering this question is vital for restoration projects but is rarely addressed well.

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