POLLING RESULTS SUPPORT PUBLIC BENEFITS OF WILDLIFE, CLEAN AIR AND WATER
(St. Paul, MN) – Minnesota has millions of acres of forests, and a recent survey found that Minnesotans feel that forests are important to their quality of life.
“There is near unanimity that forests are important to Minnesotan’s quality of life,” says Lori Weigel of the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. “This consensus is held among all key sub-groups and in every region of the state.”
The survey was conducted between November 10 -15th, 2009 by a bipartisan research team. Phone interviews were conducted with registered voters throughout the state of Minnesota with proportional and geographic distribution and a resulting margin of sampling error of +/-4.0%.
The survey asked about viewpoints and values related to forests and forest-derived benefits like wildlife habitat, clean air and water, and wood products and jobs.
“All of the forest benefits ranked high, with the top rankings being the benefits that forests provide as a place for wildlife and to help keep our air and water clean,” says Weigel.
The survey was the result of collaborations between organizations interested in better understanding Minnesotan’s environmental values and priorities. Collaborating in the research were the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Dovetail Partners and state leaders who had participated in the “Seeing the Forests and the Trees” Study Tour organized by the Blandin Foundation.
“We have a duty to future generations to be good stewards of Minnesota’s forests, and leave them in as good or even better shape than we found them,” says Dave Zumeta, Executive Director of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council and study tour participant.
Questions asked during the interviews touched on the trade-offs between managing forests for specific benefits. The results showed that a full 76% of those polled ranked the supplying of essential wood and paper products as extremely or very important.
“Our forests are vital to our quality of life and our economic future,” says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners.
One of the ways that Minnesota’s land managers have addressed the need for balanced management is through participation in voluntary certification programs. Minnesota has more than 8 million acres of certified forestland, including lands certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards. Public and private lands throughout the state have been certified, including lands managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, County Land Departments, The Nature Conservancy and others.
“As a forestland manager the survey results are encouraging; seeing that the vast majority of Minnesotans hold forests in such high regard reinforces my resolve to provide quality forest management now and into the future," says Mark Jacobs, Land Commissioner for Aitkin County.
A full 85% of the state’s electorate agreed with the statement, “With sound forest management, we can continue the current level of wood and paper production from Minnesota’s forests while still protecting and improving forest health.”
“Overall, the survey results show the strong value Minnesota voters feel they derive from the presence of forests in their state,” concludes David Metz of the polling firm FM3. “They say forests contribute to the quality of life in Minnesota, and believe there are numerous benefits from clean air and water to wildlife habitat to economic and recreational benefits. They also very much agree that economic and environmental benefits of forests can be compatible and can be preserved simultaneously through sound management.”
“Minnesota is a truly special place, and we should take pride in making special efforts to protect our forests and Great Outdoors – they are part of our way of life, part of who we are,” says Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.
Additional survey results and data are available.