Date of Completion

5-12-2019

Embargo Period

10-22-2019

Advisors

Dr. Robert Fahey, Dr. Jason Parent, Dr. Kurt Riitters

Field of Study

Natural Resources

Degree

Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

Context For the roadside forest, utility vegetation management is a driver of landscape change that involves tradeoffs between reliable electric power and preservation of trees. Little is known about public perceptions of vegetation management in the landscape context.

Objectives Our objective was to evaluate landscape characteristics and social factors associated with resident attitudes toward roadside utility vegetation management across Connecticut.

Methods We used a mail survey to collect social science data from residents in two study areas in Connecticut. We measured landscape characteristics associated with tree cover and development density at multiple scales around each respondent household. Random forest predictive models were used to assess attitudes toward vegetation management as explained by landscape and social factors.

Results Respondents generally had positive attitudes toward vegetation management, agreeing that it improves public safety and minimizes power outages. Social variables revealed that residents were more likely to have positive attitudes if they had greater knowledge about trees, believed that trees should be used for human benefits, prioritized reduced power outages over forest aesthetics, and considered changes in the roadside forest to be acceptable. Attitudes were not as strongly associated with landscape characteristics.

Conclusions Attitudes toward vegetation management are likely formed by residents in a manner independent of landscape context. Such information is useful for developing strategies to manage stakeholder conflict regarding the roadside forest.

Major Advisor

Dr. Anita Morzillo

Available for download on Tuesday, October 22, 2019

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