What is HDgov?

HDgov is an interactive informational website and a portal with featured links related to the human dimensions of natural resource management. HDgov guides users to credible on-line information, including methods, on-line tools, publications, and a calendar of events. HDgov adds value to existing sites by highlighting the widely applicable aspects of their content, while retaining links to more detailed information. For specifics regarding how HD.gov works, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, read through our Basic User Guide, or contact us.


The primary audience for HDgov is natural resource management professionals and social scientists. The web portal is developed to reduce the time required to find interagency resources and has a strong focus on the application of social science concepts, methods, and information. The use of nontechnical language makes content accessible to all users regardless of background. The information on the site is also a helpful resource for current studies and collaboration for both students and researchers.

The Need for HDgov

How can people find information on the human dimensions of natural resource management? Often in traditional on-line searches, because of lack of time or imprecise search terms, many valuable resources are never found. Popular search engines may yield hundreds or thousands of responses, but how many are relevant, useful, objective, or credible?

In “Recommended Policies and Guidelines for Federal Public Websites” the federal government states the following:

“The proliferation of information on the Internet, including information on federal public websites, can make it difficult for the public to sift through the maze of available resources, some of them overlapping and duplicative. Better coordination within and among federal organizations would limit the amount of duplication that currently exists and allow organizations to more effectively manage their resources. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by leveraging the resources of cross-agency portals, which promote the principle that information and services are created once and used many times.”
(Recommended Policies and Guidelines for Federal Public Websites)

Taking these issues into account, representatives from several agencies and organizations decided that rather than work on separate initiatives, government agencies should combine their resources related to human dimensions of natural resource management in one place while still maintaining their individual agency sites.

To test the validity of this proposal, a needs assessment was developed and sent to over 60 human dimensions professionals and natural resource managers across the U.S. Respondents stated that such an on-line resource was “needed,” “timely,” and “exciting,” and preliminary “commitment” was obtained from many federal and state agencies, nongovernment organizations, and academic institutions.

What are “Human Dimensions”?

“The term human dimensions refers to how and why humans value natural resources, how humans want resources managed, and how humans affect or are affected by natural resource management decisions. Human dimensions inquiries strive to understand human traits and how to incorporate that understanding into management planning and actions. It covers a variety of ideas and practices including cultural, social, and economic values; individual and social behavior; demographics; legal and institutional frameworks of management; communication and education; and, decision-making processes of management.” (D. J. Decker, T. L. Brown, and W. F. Siemer. 2001. “Evolution of People-Wildlife Relations.” Pages 3 to 22 in D. J. Decker, T. L. Brown, and W. F. Siemer, editors. Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management in North America. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD.)

With the growing recognition of the importance of the human side of natural resource management issues, problems, and solution; the term “human dimensions” is being used more often. The following working definition is intended to clarify what is included in "human dimensions."

The human dimensions of natural resource management include

  • The driving forces behind people’s decisions
  • The human behaviors that lead to change
  • The effects of change on natural resources and quality of life
  • The management strategies to address change

Human Dimensions: Driving Forces

Driving Forces are the basic influencers of human behavior. These driving forces play a large role in people’s decision-making processes, their activities, their impressions of the personal and social benefits and impacts of particular human activities, and their acceptance of change and control with regard to the social and natural environment.

Driving forces might include the following factors:

  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Cultural
  • Economic
  • Political
  • Legal
  • Managerial


With the Internet becoming a primary conveyor of information, and human dimensions becoming an increasingly strong topic of interest for natural resource managers, several government agencies had plans to further develop their human dimensions websites. The only concern was how value could be added without duplicating existing resources on other federal sites. The agencies generated the idea of a joint website, or a portal, that would combine information from various agencies and that might also serve as a mechanism to support an interagency community of practice among human dimensions professionals.

To test this idea, professionals from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center sent a needs assessment to professionals and managers throughout the U.S. (See Need for HDgov.) Based on the feedback obtained, they decided that the scope of the portal should be expanded to include academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

HDgov was then presented at several conferences, including the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM), the Society for Human Ecology (SHE), the Northeastern Recreation Research (NERR) Symposium, and the Organization of Wildlife Planners (OWP). During this time, several drafts of the portal were developed and reviewed by the partners in preparation for the June 2007 launch. The Web portal was further enhanced following user feedback. A newer version of HDgov was released in January 2009, amd the web portal is currently expanding to host community and team pages that will further support information sharing and collaboration in human dimensions of natural resources.

Site Management

HDgov is developed and run by its partners through a committee-based organization. Registered users of HDgov have the option to be involved in any of the committees as well serve as content reviewers (if they meet reviewer standards). The role of the committees is to facilitate the growth of HDgov by helping to make decisions about future development and direction. If you would like to become involved with HDgov, please email the web content manager.

Web Policies

HDgov’s policy is to include links only if they accomplish the following:

  • Provide information that adds value to HD.gov by furthering its goals and missions and complementing existing content
  • Bring users to a “user-friendly” website with relevant, useful, and authoritative information that is both accurate and current
  • Are in good taste and comply with laws, regulations, and policies (including but not limited to digital rights, copyright, and patent laws)
  • Not contain any biased, misleading, or unsubstantiated messages or claims
  • Not serve the purpose of endorsing a commercial product (with the exception of tools or data—see objectivity claim)
  • Not require special registration or fees (unless otherwise noted)

Linking to Nonfederal web pages.

When linking to a nonfederal website, the external link provides additional information that may be useful or interesting and helps fulfill the intended purpose of the HDgov portal. However, HDgov cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided by this or any other external, linked website. Providing links to a non-HDgov website does not constitute an endorsement by HDgov or any of its partners or site sponsors of the information or products presented on the non-HDgov site. Also, the privacy protection provided on the HDgov domain (see Privacy and Security Notice) may not be available at the external link.

(Privacy and Security Notice: HDgov follows the standards outlined in OMB Circular A-130 Appendix I and OMB memorandum M-03-22, "OMB Guidance for Implementing the Privacy Provisions of the E-Government Act of 2002" regarding privacy and security).

Crediting HDgov

There are two types of content on HDgov: content developed specifically for HDgov and content pulled from other sources.

  • Content developed for HDgov can be identified by the label, “Original HDgov Content.” When citing this content, please credit HDgov and the contributor (individual or organization).
  • Content on HDgov that has been quoted or modified from other websites does not have the label, “Original HDgov Content,” and has only source information. When citing this content, credit the original source (crediting HDgov, as well, is optional).

Web Update Schedule

HDgov reviews all links at least semi annually as part of its routine content development and update process to make sure they are current and that they still add value.

Adding Links to HDgov

If you would like to submit one or more links to HDgov, click the “Submit” button on any of the pages. This will open an interface that will allow you to submit links and content.

Objectivity Policy

Product Endorsement

HDgov does not endorse any commercial product, process, service, or enterprise by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, or otherwise. Links to other websites and references to any commercial product or enterprise are provided solely for the user’s convenience and do not necessarily constitute or imply HDgov’s endorsement, recommendation, or exclusive approval thereof. Accordingly, HDgov does not endorse or assume responsibility for the content provided on any linked, third-party website.

Links to For-Profit Products and Organizations

As a rule, links may not promote specific for-profit products or services. It is permissible to link to the home pages or e-mail addresses of a category of private for-profit organizations when it will promote HD.gov’s objectives, with the following provisions:

  • A complete list of the vendors in that category must be posted (both those with and those without websites or e-mail).
  • All vendors in that category must be notified that HDgov will be creating links to the websites or e-mail addresses of those that have them, before any links are posted.
  • Links must include the exit disclaimer.