The life of the land: The stewardship experiences of forest landowners in the Maritime Provinces of Canada

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University of New Brunswick


Private forests provide substantial public benefits. To support landowners in stewarding these benefits, it is necessary to understand their values, aspirations, and concerns. This study draws on 40 interviews with a set of forest landowners from the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Interviews revealed various pathways through which landowners develop emotional attachments to their woodlands, such as investing their time, physical labour, and mental energy into forest stewardship. Psychological and legal ownership grant landowners agency to pursue stewardship goals, but the results of this study indicate that some landowners lack confidence regarding the courses of action that will help them achieve their aspirations. Compounding this uncertainty, many participants distrust existing forestry professionals and institutions. Overall, virtually every landowner expressed a desire to do the “right thing” for their land, though there were a variety of views regarding what that means and varying levels of self-efficacy.