Iversena, Sara V., Claire Stevenson-Holt, Naomi van der Velden, Lois Mansfield, & Ian Convery (2021, October). Why understanding stakeholder perspectives and emotions is important in upland woodland creation – a case study from Cumbria, UK. Land Use Policy. (ePub in advance of print). (Preprint Access: https://doi.org/10.32942/osf.io/7pb4m)

Abstract: Upland regions in the United Kingdom (UK) are increasingly under consideration as potential areas for the creation of woodlands. This is driven by a combination of factors, including the aims of UK forestry and environmental policy to increase woodland cover, meeting international greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, agro-environment schemes in national and international policy, and an increasing public awareness of the ecosystem service benefits landscapes can deliver for society. Creating new woodlands in upland areas is challenging, partly due to concerns of the potential impacts from a change in land use and also due to stakeholder perspectives. In the UK, the upland landscape is in multiple ownership and currently managed by multiple land managers and stakeholders with contrasting aims and objectives. This research adds a much needed qualitative element to the overall understanding of this complex topic, by carrying out a Q-methodology investigation of stakeholder perspectives of upland woodland creation. Three characteristic groups of stakeholders are identified as 1. ‘Not enough is done to protect the environment’, 2. ‘Changing the landscape is changing us’ and 3. ‘let’s not let our emotions get in the-seeing the bigger picture’. The clear potential for antagonism, and even conflict, in ideologies and approaches between these groups highlights the importance of engaging with stakeholders and employing approaches rooted in mutual understanding, participation and collaboration. Stakeholder perspectives are a powerful influence on if, and how, woodlands are created and maintained, thus understanding emotions and attitudes is a vitally important part of the challenge of creating new woodlands in the uplands of Cumbria.

Sara V Iversen <sara.iversen@agro.au.dk> is in the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark.

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