My research and outreach program blends human factors and natural sciences to improve resource management and conservation. The goal my research program is to develop a fundamental understanding of human behavior for the purposes of improving resource conservation and management. The human factor is often the least understood, yet primary reason for lack of environmental outcomes for water, forest, and other natural resources despite public and private resource investment. An understanding of human social, political, and psychological processes will enhance our ability to conserve and manage our natural resources and encourage an open and informed exchange of ideas. Of particular importance is and understanding of both individual decision-making as it relates to natural resources conservation as well as an understanding of how broader scale concepts such as context, community, policy tools, and networks influence behavior. The specific objectives of my research program are to (1) characterize the individual attitudes, knowledge, opinions, and behavior of private landowners and other key stakeholder groups as it relates to natural resource management and natural resource conservation, (2) investigate network and community level relationships in natural resource conservation, (3) identify and investigate innovative policy alternatives for natural resource conservation, and (4) improving social science survey research methodologies. Below are descriptions of my major program areas: Human Dimensions of Forestry, Stakeholder Engagement in Urban Forest Stewardship, Educational Design and Evaluation, Social Dimensions of Watershed Management, and Inter-disciplinary projects.
HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF FORESTRY
The projects below represent research and outreach in my program that explores social science dimensions of attitudes, behavior, and program effectiveness in forestry.
Conservation of Early Successional Habitat on Private Lands
Project Website: www.LandownerDecisions.org
Early successional forest habitat can take many forms, from grasses mixed with low shrubs to young aspen stands. Early successional forest habitat (ESH) can arise naturally as a step within the natural successional from open space to woods but can also be created and maintained through land management techniques.
Due to the decline in the amount of ESH in the Northeast and its importance for certain wildlife species, such as Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, and Golden-winged Warbler, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Cornell University have teamed up to conduct a collaborative study of ESH on private lands in New York State and learn how to better support landowner decision-making related to this type of habitat.
Addressing Private Forestland Parcelization in the Hudson River Watershed: An Integrated Research and Extension Approach
Project Website: www.forestparcelization.org
Forestland parcelization is recognized as one of the most serious challenges facing forests today. Parcelization divides large single ownership forest tracts into smaller parcels with diverse ownerships, often with development and a reduction in forest area, impacting the sustainability of forestlands. This study is comprised of three main components aimed at gaining an understanding of the extent and effects of forestland parcelization in the Hudson River watershed in New York. The first stage of this project was conducted through an examination of parcelization patterns, with an analysis of sales data from the New York State Office of Real Property data. The total number and area of sales and divisions of properties from 2000 to 2010 were calculated in each county to reveal the geographic areas property classes with the highest amounts of ownership change. A GIS analysis of landcover change was conducted in a three county area with a continuum of sales activity. The second part of the research involved semi-structured interviews with consulting foresters and land trust protection staff about their observations of the effects of forest property division and their responses to increasingly parcelized landscapes. Interviews were conducted with twenty foresters and five land trust protection staff, transcribed, and coded for emergent themes. The third stage involved interviews with individual landowners who had made the decision to parcelize their land and results informed the design of a mail survey to understand and examine the distribution of key factors influencing the process. The results of these study components will allow the researchers to understand both the extent and effects of parcelization in the study area and inform an extension approach to focus on the geographic areas where parcelization poses the greatest concern.
Project Website: www.sustainablewoodlands.org
This webinar series was developed to assist woodland owners and forestry professionals to develop an enhanced understanding of sustainable forestry concepts and practices and how they might be applied in woodland management planning and decisions. Support for this series is provided by the university-based Sustainable Forests Partnership with funding from the US Forest Service. The webinar series is centered on the sustainable forestry stewardship principles as outlined in the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) http:www.stateforesters.org/files/p&ghandbook.pdf.
Empowering Landowners through Peer to Peer Outreach
Project Website: http://woodlandownernetworks.ning.com
Decades of research on family woodland owners confirm a few well-established findings. Many landowners enjoy owning land for multiple benefits but are passive, only seeking information and actively managing their land during periods of economic need or opportunity. Traditional landowner assistance programs rely almost exclusively on one-on-one interaction between natural resource professionals and landowners. While effective, there are insufficient fiscal and human resources to meaningfully engage the 10 million family forest owners across the U.S. one-on-one. This leaves many “prime prospect” woodland owners unengaged simply due to a lack of natural resource professional outreach capacity.
Furthermore, though strongly committed to land stewardship, many family woodland owners choose not to participate in existing landowner assistance programs. For many, this is driven by issues such as lack of awareness or interest in such programs and less than effective communication and program design. In many cases woodland owners manage their land in ways that produce sub-optimal private and public outcomes, reducing the health and productivity of the nation’s forest resource.
One way to address these challenges is to employ outreach models that focus on empowerment and reducing barriers to communication. For example, woodland owner peer learning based on master volunteer models extend the reach of traditional expert-focused approaches such as face-to-face workshops. Peer learning involves voluntary, non-hierarchical learning among those who see themselves as similar, and who are not professional educators. Peers are both learners and lay teachers. Peer-to-peer learning presents opportunities for participant leadership, empowerment, information exchange, and more. This approach creates lasting impacts.
Broussard Allred, S., Goff, G., Wetzel, L. and M. Luo. (In Press). Evaluating Peer Impacts of the Master Forest Owner Volunteer Program in New York. Journal of Extension. [Accepted 12-20-2010]
Broussard Allred, S. and E. Sagor. (In Press). Perspectives: Empowering Woodland Owners through Peer Learning. Journal of Forestry.
Broussard Allred, S., Goff, G., Luo, M., and L. Wetzel. 2010. Woodland Owner Cooperation. Cornell University Human Dimensions Research Unit, HDRU Outreach Series No. 10-3, January 2010.
Broussard Allred, S., Goff, G.R., Luo, M.K., and L.P. Wetzel. 2010. An Evaluation of the Impact of the New York Master Forest Owner Volunteer Program. Cornell University Human Dimensions Research Unit, HDRU Outreach Publication No. 10-2, January 2010.
Broussard Allred, S. and G. Goff. 2009. The Power of Peer Learning Programs in Natural Resources. Cornell University, Community and Rural Development Institute (CARDI) Rural New York Minute, Issue 32(August).
Succession Planning and Family Woodlands
Project Website: http://SuccessionPlanning.ning.com
Succession Planning--the human side of Estate Planning--focuses on ways to maintain family ties to the land from generation to generation, building awareness of key challenges facing families and motivating families to address those challenges. This is an important issue in New York as 15% of the states’ woodland owners (92,100 people) plan to transfer their woodland to a new owner within the next five years.
The purpose of this project is to work with residents and organizations to develop, implement and evaluate an urban forestry community engagement model that will be disseminated for use by organizations nationwide to reach and empower people to be active stewards of their community’s trees and natural resources. Trees are integral to the urban environment, contributing multiple economic and environmental benefits. Critical to the success of these efforts is community engagement. Indeed, lack of involvement of key stakeholders in urban greening projects has been linked to project failure. Effective community engagement can translate to an informed and invested citizenry taking actions to become advocates for their urban forest. The timing is ideal to develop & disseminate a community engagement model that enables agencies and organizations to effectively involve residents and sustain their participation in local forestry efforts over the long term. The primary components of the project are: 1) a participatory community engagement process, 2) community capacity building, 3) engagement model/outreach toolkit development, and 3) national dissemination. This project uses participatory social science research methods to inform model development and is funded by the Ittleson Foundation ($75,000).
Moskell, C., Broussard Allred, S., and G. Ferenz. 2011. Examining motivations and strategies for engagement in urban forestry. Cities and the Environment 3(1): Article 9
Broussard Allred, S., Ferenz, G., Jena, N., Lambert, V., Tse, C. and K. Loria. 2010. Community Views of Urban Forests in the South Bronx, New York. Cornell University Human Dimensions Research Unit, HDRU Outreach Series No. 10-1, January 2010.
My program also focuses on program evaluation work that contributes to the improvement of extension outreach theory, design and delivery. I have conducted program evaluation research that has advanced the thinking surrounding innovative educational strategies and methods. Several studies have focused on the use of distance learning in forestry education. Distance learning as an educational strategy holds much promise but few studies have addressed the short and long-term impacts on learning and actual behavior change. I have led several studies that provide needed answers to these questions and recommendations for effective distance learning design in forestry education.
I am also deeply engaged in scholarship with colleagues on how digital media can be used to engage audiences in learning and what educational outcomes can be achieved. In one NSF funded project in which I am Co-PI, I am working with colleagues on the educational design and evaluation of an on-line network focused on engaging minorities in learning about environment science. I am also working with colleagues to develop, test, and refine a social network designed to reconnect citizens with their environment while aggregating biodiversity data for improved management. Adult education researchers have recognized the importance of relational aspects of learning (i.e., learning in situated learning contexts), but how knowledge generated in situated learning contexts is transferred and utilized in other arenas, and how peer and hierarchical relations influence learning in these types of environments is unclear. While activities in situated learning contexts generate knowledge for use in a particular community, there is also value is in what happens outside of the network. The enduring decisions and behaviors that emerge from and transcend the cyberlearning context will be the focus of this project which has important implications for online educational design.
Broussard Allred, S. and P.J. Smallidge. 2010. An Educational Evaluation of Web-Based Forestry Education. Journal of Extension 48(6), Article 6FEA2. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2010december/a2.php
Community-based watershed planning and management is an important means of addressing water quality across the U.S. Community-based watershed management can lead to many individual and community level social outcomes such as increased social capital, place attachment, awareness and understanding of watershed management, social networks, cooperation and information exchange, policy changes. These outcomes help improve water quality and watershed management, but may have other positive effects as well. Watershed-based planning and management is an approach to environmental management that is designed to address declining waterbody and watershed health by combining public and private efforts to address water quality issues. Using a watershed management approach to remediate water quality issues can be very effective because it involves the public in identifying threats to watersheds and can involve them in watershed stewardship and protection. Many watershed organizations use a watershed management approach but these groups face many challenges that impact their ability to reach water quality goals. Some key challenges faced by watershed organization leaders and volunteers throughout New York include inadequate funding, limited training opportunities, recruitment and retention of volunteers and staff, effective stakeholder engagement and much more. Dr. Allred’s program addresses these identified needs.
Prokopy, L., Gocmen, A., Gao, J., Broussard Allred, S., Bonnell, J., Genskow, K., Molloy, A. and R. Power. 2011. A Method for Using Paired Watersheds to Test the Efficacy of NPS Education and Outreach Programs. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 47(1): 196-202.
Prokopy, L.S., Genskow, K., Asher, J., Baumgart-Getz, A., Bonnell, J.E., Broussard, S.R., Curtis, C., Floress, K., McDermaid, K., Power, R., and D. Wood. 2009. Designing a Regional System of Social Indicators to Evaluate Nonpoint Source Water Projects. Journal of Extension 47(2) Article Number 2FEA1. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2009april/a1.php
Broussard, S.R., McDermaid, K, Bonnell, J. and K. Genskow. 2008. Sample Questionnaires and Supporting Documents. Pages 125-156 in: Genskow, Ken and Linda Prokopy (eds.). The Social Indicator Planning and Evaluation System (SIPES) for Nonpoint Source Management: A Handbook for Projects in USEPA Region Great Lakes Regional Water Program. Publication Number: GLRWP-08-SI01 (169 pages).
Broussard, S.R., Ottombre-Washington, C., and B.K Miller. 2008. Attitudes toward Land-Use Planning and Protection of Natural Resources: A Comparative Study of Government Officials and the General Public. Landscape and Urban Planning 86(1): 14-24.