How are forest owners' objectives and social networks related to successful conservation?
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CitationVainio, Annukka. Paloniemi, Riikka. Hujala, Teppo. (2018). How are forest owners' objectives and social networks related to successful conservation?. Journal of Rural Studies, 62, 21-28. 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.06.009.
In sustainable rural development, national and international policies are interpreted and implemented through local networks and involvement of local actors with various backgrounds, needs and objectives. We explored how forest owners' land management and biodiversity conservation objectives, as well as social capital embedded in their social networks were related to success in nature conservation, i.e., voluntary conservation contracts made as a part of the Forest Biodiversity Program for Southern Finland. The survey data of forest owners (N = 509) were analyzed with multivariate generalized linear modeling. The networks involving forestry actors exhibited highest levels of trust, information seeking and perceived similarity of goals. The act of making a conservation agreement, as well as the type of conservation agreement made, was associated with the endorsement of biodiversity objectives and the three dimensions of social capital analyzed in the study. More specifically, owners who had made a conservation agreement perceived environmental and forestry actors' goals as similar to theirs, trusted in them most often, and sought information from them more frequently than owners who did not have any contract. Moreover, the owners with a fixed-term contract expressed goal similarity, trust, and information seeking behavior towards forestry actors more frequently than owners with a permanent contract, who in turn expressed the above ties more frequently towards environmental actors. These results increase the understanding of the role and importance of forest owners' diverse social networks in voluntary nature conservation agreements. The findings encourage the utilization of these networks more systematically and dynamically while implementing rural, environmental and forest policies in order to increase their societal impact in local contexts.