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A question of value: What do trees and forests mean to people in Vermont?

Key Message

Forests are important to quality of life which, in some cases, can outweigh monetary considerations.


O'Brien, Elizabeth. (2006). A question of value: What do trees and forests mean to people in Vermont? Landscape Research. 31(3): 257-275. DOI: 10.1080/01426390600783335


The questions considered for this research included: what are the values and meanings people associate with forest places in Vermont, USA and what role do forests play in the landscape of the state and in personal identity? The interpretive qualitative analysis approach taken in this research emphasizes how the ways in which people value forests are linked to wider issues of concern over well being, quality of life and cultural identity. Through the in-depth discussion groups and interviews undertaken, the diversity and complexity of the meanings people associate with the forested landscape of Vermont were explored. Respondents' views of forests and trees in Vermont revolved around four main themes: forests and personal well being, personal and community identity, conflict and confusion, and forest management.


This qualitative study of perceptions of Vermont’s forested landscape by local residents concluded that such forests are an important source of local identity and pride, as well as a strong contributor to quality of life. Participants in the study stated that the forests and natural landscapes of Vermont were, among other things, an important source of recreational activity – including hiking and skiing among residents of Burlington, originally from out of state.

Furthermore,  three of the Burlington residents interviewed stated they had opted for lower paying jobs in Vermont, because they wanted to be involved in outdoor activities and live closer to nature – showing the draw of quality of life factors that can outweigh pure monetary considerations.


Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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