A SURVEY OF fOREST•MANAGEMENT INFORMATION NEEDS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
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This report presents the results of a survey of client needs that was conducted by Decision Science Research Institute on behalf of the Southern Interior Forest Extension and Research Partnership. The survey was designed to identify the primary information needs of Partnership members; to define the key barriers limiting access to relevant information; to determine the perceived quality of, and users' trust in, various sources of information; and to understand better the opinions of Partnership clients regarding alternative presentation formats and different options for the dissemination of selected information types. Background research and extensive small-group discussions provided an initial framework for the survey, which was pilot tested and then mailed to a random selection of 1,357 Partnership members in June, 1998. A total of 381 completed surveys (an overall response rate of 28. l %) were obtained from a broadly representative sample of Partnership members including provincial operations and policy personnel (from the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks), provincial researchers (from the same agencies), timber licensees, private consultants, and other (academic and federal government) researchers. In addition, smaller samples were obtained from selected First Nation groups (Shuswap Nation Tribal Cotmcil and the Okanagan Nation Alliance) and from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The survey results demonstrate broad agreement on the overall goals and objectives of an extension service for the Southern Interior of the province. Emphasis is placed on getting information effectively from experts or other reliable sources of information to potential users and on the continued development of a responsive knowledge base. Recent changes in forestry practices in the Province are shown to have resulted in a pressing need for additional information relating to the application of sustainable forest practices, the incorporation of First Nations in forest-management decisions, J.11d the need to achieve on-the-ground practices that are scientifically defensible and socially, legally, and ecologically viable. Survey results point to substantial disagreements among Partnership clients regarding the priorities that should in future be assigned to these diverse extension services. In addition, the results show striking differences in the perceptions of key groups regarding the performance of extension services in focusing on the issues of primary importance to Partnership clients, employing accessible presentation formats, and utilizing appropriate dissemination technologies.