Perceptions of Forest Owners and the General Public on the Role of Forests in Slovakia

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Abstract

During the past decades, the awareness of environmental issues in forest management is increasing due to changes in environmental education. The perceptions of forests, sustainable management, and ecosystem services were studied through two surveys. The general public and forest owners were the two target groups. The questionnaires had similar questions, though two different methodological approaches were used - the CATI system, for general public opinion survey, and semi-structured questionnaires for forest owners. The second survey contained more detailed questions regarding forest properties. Combined answers from 1503 respondents from the general public and 150 forest owners were evaluated on the following topics: sustainable forestry, major ecosystem services, and perceptions of forests. The majority of the Slovakian public regards ecological values as the most important element, whereas forest owners prefer the economic purposes for the maintenance and enhancement of forests. Forest owners tend to visit their forests once per week, whereas the general public tend to visit only once per month. The main cause for this non-attendance in the general public was a lack of recreational time, followed by a disinterest in forests. The main purpose for visiting forests for both groups was recreation. Overall, it can be concluded that people are mostly satisfied with forest management in Slovakia. Forest owners are satisfied with their forest properties, and plan to keep them for their children. In the future, more attention should be focused on investigating the younger generation’s perception of forests.

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Acta Silvatica et Lignaria Hungarica

The Journal of University of West Hungary

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