The nestedness of forest dependence: A conceptual framework and empirical exploration

Thomas M. Beckley
1998 Society & Natural Resources  
Previous research on forest dependence has been limited by (1) an incomplete treat ment of the topic (an overemphasis of timber dependence) and (2) careless specifica tion of inferences based on data employed. This article presents a conceptual frame workfor understanding the nested nature of forest dependence, and demonstrates how forest dependence changes when examining progressively smaller units of analysis. North Americans derive a wide variety of goods and services from their forests. A
more » ... their forests. A combination of human uses, including timber use, tourism/recreation use, subsistence, other nontimber use, and ecological use, comprises forest dependence at any given unit of analysis. A vailable data from the northeastern United States are used to show how forest dependence diff ers as one shifts between nested, spatial units of analysis. Keywords community, forest dependence, New England, timber dependence, units of analysis Human dependence upon forests, whether at the individual, household, community, or re gional level, is a multifaceted phenomenon. This is due to the fact that forests provide a diverse stream of benefits to humans. Forests, or their component parts, provide timber and nontimber commodities, recreational experiences, and sustenance to active forest users. Passive human users of forests-individuals who attach cultural value to forests also derive both economic and noneconomic benefit from the existence of forests. This article examines the complexity of human dependence on forests and describes the geographically nested nature of forest-dependence at different spatial scales. Nested ness refers to the fact that forest dependence takes different forms depending upon the unit of analysis chosen. This may seem obvious, yet few scholars who treat forest depen dence have articulated the important differences between forest dependence at various levels of analysis. Indeed, these differences are often assumed away. The most common example of this involves the routine use of county-level data to draw inferences regarding forest dependence at the community level. This article contains three sections. The first treats the concept of nestedness in greater detail and illustrates both spatial and temporal dimensions of this phenomenon. The second section presents a typology of forest dependence that outlines the broad spec trum of humans uses of forests. Accompanying the typology is a conceptual framework for situating studies of forest dependence. Much of the previous literature is imprecise as
doi:10.1080/08941929809381066 fatcat:xoynazcvyfhlpi7jrdbplsjaae