Knowing is not enough: exploring the missing link between climate change knowledge and action of German forest owners and managers

Total number of participants from each federal state contrasted with the forest area of these states.

Adaptation to climate change is a complex but urgent task in forest management; however, a lack of action is widely reported. This study shows that adaptive action on both stand and business levels is missing in forest management. Beyond the cognitive dimension, affective and conative aspects should be promoted through awareness-raising initiatives specific to different target groups.

Context Adaptation to climate change is a complex but urgent task in forest management. A lack of action is widely reported combined with a call for awareness-raising and better knowledge transfer to bridge the gap between knowledge and action.
Aims Based on an understanding of awareness encompassing cognitive, affective, and conative dimensions, the paper aims to clarify (1) what kind of adaptive measures are missing in forest management and (2) if there is a gap in climate change awareness of forest owners and managers hindering adaptive action.
Methods An online survey among German forest owners and managers was conducted. The theory of planned behavior was selected to examine variables which support the implementation of adaptive measures and to examine different awareness dimensions. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression analysis.
Results Adaptive measures on stand level were more often implemented than those on business level. All awareness dimensions were influential for the intention to implement adaptive measures. Experience and attitude towards adaptive measures were most important while social norm and perceived behavioral control were influential in some groups.
Conclusion The potential of adaptive measures on stand level and particularly on business level is not fully exploited. Based on these findings, awareness-raising initiatives and forest consultancy can be adapted to consider the specific perspectives of target groups as a means of promoting the implementation of adaptive measures.

Adaptation, Awareness, Forestry, Theory of planned behavior, Multiple linear regression

Hengst-Ehrhart, Y. Annals of Forest Science (2019) 76: 94.

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Data availability
The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Open Science Framework repository (Hengst-Ehrhart 2019) at

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