Over half of the forested land in the United States is privately owned. As a majority of this private land is divided into individual or family-owned properties, the decisions made by these owners can have substantial implications for U.S. forests. However, traditional professional outreach efforts have been unsuccessful in reaching the majority of „family forest‟ owners, resulting in a lack of accessible management-related information for this community. This study examined peer-to-peer learning, or peer exchange, as an alternative means of diffusing information throughout the private landowner community, a burgeoning but as yet underrepresented area of research in the natural resource literature base. Case study methodology was used to examine landowner/community organizations in order to better understand a) how and to what degree peer exchange was fostered within each organization, b) how these organizations influenced landowners and contributed to information dissemination within the landowner community, and c) how the examples provided by these organizational models may be translated to inform future peer exchange and information outreach efforts in the family forest landowner community, specifically.
Qualitative data were collected from five diverse landowner organizations in the United States and Australia via 61 in-depth interviews with organizational leaders and landowning members, as well as from supplementary observation of group functions. Results from analysis revealed a variety of strong common themes across cases. The organizations utilized peer exchange and social incentives in concert with professional resources to foster credible, appealing atmospheres and comfortable learning environments. Participants gained access to networks of both practical, peer-based information as well as technical, professional-based information. Additionally, organizations increased participant awareness of landowning issues and provided assistance in refinement and accomplishment of management goals. The results of this research can inform future efforts in fostering peer exchange and information dissemination in the private landowner community, with specific considerations for practitioners seeking alternative information channels for reaching the masses of family forest owners in the United States.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2010. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: Dennis R. Becker. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 152 pages, appendices A-B.
Kueper, Amanda Mary.
Learning from landowners: exploring peer exchange in the private landowner community through organizational case studies..
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