The role of values in climate-related decision-making is a prominent theme of climate communication research. The present study examines whether forest professionals are more driven by values than scientists are, and if this results in value polarization. A questionnaire was designed to elicit and assess the values assigned to expected effects of climate change by forest professionals and scientists working on forests and climate change in Europe. The countries involved covered a north-to-south and west-to-east gradient across Europe, representing a wide range of bio-climatic conditions and a mix of economic-social-political structures. We show that European forest professionals and scientists do not exhibit polarized expectations about the values of specific impacts of climate change on forests in their countries. In fact, few differences between forest professionals and scientists were found. However, there are interesting differences in the expected values of forest professionals with regard to climate change impacts across European countries. In Northern European countries, the aggregated values of the expected effects are more neutral than they are in Southern Europe, where they are more negative. Expectations about impacts on timber production, economic returns, and regulatory ecosystem services are mostly negative, while expectations about biodiversity and energy production are mostly positive.
- Climate change impacts
- Homogeneity of expected values
- Risk perception
- Strength of expected values
- Value polarization