Factors influencing endangered bat conservation management by professional foresters
Publication date: 28 February 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 434
Author(s): Laura E. D’Acunto, Patrick A. Zollner
Integration of conservation efforts that benefit endangered species in forest lands of the U.S. are highly dependent on the decisions made by professional foresters. Federal guidelines generally do not require private landowners to search for endangered species before conducting forest management activities. Because private lands make up 85% of Indiana’s forests, recommendations by professional foresters can influence a large proportion of the management decisions made on Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) habitat in the state. Thus, we wanted to determine what factors lead professional foresters in Indiana to adopt management strategies that benefit bat conservation. We conducted an online survey of Indiana consultant and state foresters to address two main objectives: (1) to assess forester understanding of guidelines for adequate bat habitat, and (2) to identify the factors that influence professional forester intention to manage forests to improve bat habitat quality. For a subset of survey respondents, we also determined whether forester intent to manage for Indiana bat habitat translated to on-the-ground behavior via an assessment of their stands marked for single-tree selection harvest. We found that most respondents knew some of the forest management guidelines for the Indiana bat, but few were familiar with all guidelines. Through structural equation modeling, we determined that intention to manage forests for the Indiana bat was influenced most by whether foresters believed following the guidelines would strongly influence the conservation of the species. We found a difference in the relative strength (path loading) of this factor between government and consultant foresters. We assessed the management decisions of a subsample of our survey respondents and found that respondent’s decisions aligned with their intention to maintain or create Indiana bat habitat. We suggest two strategies can be employed to improve the habitat management occurring on private lands in Indiana: (1) increasing forester knowledge of federal guidelines and (2) providing evidence to foresters that these guidelines directly contribute to Indiana bat conservation.
via ScienceDirect Publication: Forest Ecology and Management http://bit.ly/2EECi8G