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Education and knowledge determine preference for bark beetle control measures in El Salvador

Thorn, Simon, Leverkus, Alexandro B., Thorn, Christine J., Beudert, Burkhard
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.232 pp. 138-144
Coleoptera, Pinus, bark beetles, chemical control, coniferous forests, conservation areas, education, forest ownership, human resources, land management, managers, prescribed burning, questionnaires, salvage logging, surveys, El Salvador
Extensive outbreaks of bark beetles have affected not only large parts of coniferous forests in the Northern Hemisphere, but also — largely absent from global attention — native pine forests of Central America. As such outbreaks frequently spark management debates among residents, land managers, forest owners and the public, the social acceptance of bark beetle control measures has become crucial for modern land management. However, the sociological and psychological determinants of the preference for specific bark beetle control measures outside protected areas remain unclear. To determine the acceptability of bark beetle control measures in El Salvador, we assessed how demographic variables, attitude towards the bark beetle, education, and self-reported knowledge affected the preference for different bark beetle control measures in a survey of government employees and local forest owners using a quantitative questionnaire survey. Cumulative link mixed models revealed that the general preference for control measures increased with increasing self-reported knowledge about the bark beetle but decreased with increasing level of respondent education and an increasing positive attitude towards the bark beetle. Respondents generally preferred beetle control measures on small areas than on large areas. Preferences for control measures did not differ between government employees and forest owners, with controlled burning and chemical control significantly less accepted than stand thinning or salvage logging. We discuss the most preferred control measures considering recent scientific evidence of their efficacy and conclude that the current bark beetle outbreak should be controlled through logging of pines weakened by fire in the short-term and by stand thinning in the medium-term to prevent further outbreaks.