Exploring forest aesthetics using forestry photo contests: Case studies examining Japanese and German public preferences

Ryo Kohsaka, Michael Flitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In sustainable forest management (SFM), forestry organizations are required to communicate to the public effectively to broaden the general understanding of their efforts in maintaining multiple forest service functions. Thus, there is a renewed interest in the scientific study of the perception and representation of forests. Forestry photo contests provide valuable resources to deepen the knowledge about 'images' that are shared in a larger public and obviously appealing to imaginations from the perspective of laypeople. The paper aims at identifying such 'icons' through a new methodology that involved examining group discussion dynamics based on using two sets of prize-winning pictures. The pictures were from Japanese and German photo contests with the common theme of 'forest/trees.' Data were collected with different sets of forest pictures in both cultures. Interviewees were asked to categorize the pictures into clusters through group discussions with a high degree of freedom. The results show rather stable sets of pairs and clusters of certain pictures. What is being included in the prize-winning photos differed largely between Japan and Germany, indicating separate discursive practices of forestry organizations in the two cultures. In addition to these representational differences in 'icons', perception of German and Japanese groups differed in certain themes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jun 1


  • Forest aesthetics
  • Germany
  • Group interview
  • Japan
  • Photo contest
  • Public relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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