Public Understandings of Environmental Quality: A Case Study of the Jefferson National Forest Planning Process

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2000-10-27

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Virginia Tech

Abstract

Environmental decision-making is a tournament of competing conservation agendas in which some values and beliefs are held up and exalted, others are dismissed and ignored, and still others are implicit and unnoticed. Stakeholders compete in the tournament to advance their value systems through the science they advocate or practice, through the constructs of environmental quality they use or study, and through the management goals they champion. It is our contention that participants who hope to compete successfully in this tournament should understand the rules of the game, which includes recognizing the values and ambiguities of the language used to discuss and describe nature - in particular the terms used to describe ecological conditions that become the goals and policies of forest management - and acknowledging the "middle nature".

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Social Construction of Nature

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