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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Understanding family forest owners’ (FFOs’) attitudes and behaviors towards climate change will allow for more sustainable forest management practices to be implemented, helping to combat climate change and its impacts. The goals for this research are (1) to begin measuring U.S. FFO attitudes toward climate change, (2) to determine what factors impact these attitudes, and (3) to determine how they influence the FFO’s management practices using the Responsible Environmental Behavior (REB) framework (Hines et al. 1987). Chapter 1 explores the different facets of my thesis project focusing on forests and forests’ ecosystem services, forest ownership in the United States, and exploration of the REB model and serves as a more in-depth introduction section of Chapter 2. I explored past research of climate change attitude and beliefs and found age, political affiliation, education level and income of U.S. forest owners and foresters were significant factors in comparison to their climate change belief or attitude. Chapter 2 follows my research project, in which I measure the climate change attitudes of FFOs in Alabama, Oregon, and Wisconsin and their employment of climate centered forest management practices as well as the factors that influence these practices using mailed surveys. Based on the categories developed by Maibahc et al. (Maibach et al. 2009) to describe the general public’s attitudes towards climate change, I found about 16% of the FFOs in the study area were in the Alarmed segment, 16% in the Concerned, 37% in the Cautious, 2% in the Disengaged, 10% in the Doubtful, and 20% in the Dismissive. FFOs in Oregon and Wisconsin were more likely to be in a higher climate change attitude segment than those in Alabama. FFOs who had a college degree were more likely to be in a higher climate change attitude segment than those and a college degree. Climate change attitude was not a significant factor in determining if the FFO would carry out a climate centered management practice within the REB framework but rather the FFOs who indicated financial objectives were an important reason for owning their forest\land were more likely to carry out the listed management practices. These results indicate climate change belief is not necessary for an FFO to manage their land to mitigate or adapt to future climate impacts, but rather the individual objectives and values determine which management practices are utilized.


First Advisor

Brett Butler

Second Advisor

Meghan Graham MacLean