Perceptions of "close-to-nature forestry" by German and Japanese groups: Inquiry using visual materials of "cut" and "dead" wood

Ryo Kohsaka, Itsuki C. Handoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally believed that forests are perceived differently according to the cultural background of the visitor. Different cultural groups tend to have diverse perceptions of tree species, landscapes, or gardens. In this research project, we conducted interviews of German and Japanese groups (each group consisting of three or more people), to identify their perspectives in exploring the theme of "cut" and "dead" wood. For this purpose, we interviewed 20 groups from each cultural background (40 data sets in total). Each group was asked to categorize 36 pictures chosen from photographic contests. The results were examined with PCA and cluster analysis. The quantified results of the two national groups highlighted the dichotomy of the cut and dead wood relationship. The method and materials used gave robust results. Differences between the two groups were identified by their perceptions of cut and dead wood. The results are insightful from a methodological and political rationale. First, new insights were gained by adopting group-based interviews using pictures from photographic contests. Research about public perceptions in forest science is often dominated by a focus on verbal inquiry. This study explored similar questions, using visual materials. The interviews consisted of visual materials to overcome bias in languages or the question order. Second, the results indicated the influence of "close-to-nature forestry" policy on public perceptions. While German society has a wide practice of leaving dead wood in forests based on their close-to-nature forestry policy, there is no equivalent Japanese concept. Although Japan and Germany both face pressures for economic restructuring and public participation, the difference in public perception of forestry can lead to a difference in acceptance for the same policy. If such differences are to exist, we can observe that the legitimacy of forestry in the two countries is reconstructed in different ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Forest Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb 1


  • Close-to-nature forestry
  • Dead wood
  • Group interviews
  • Public perception
  • Statistical analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry


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