In course of the transition from planned to market economy, and to democracy, many Eastern European countries started a process of restitution and privatization. Restitution of forests acknowledges the continuity of private forestland ownership rights by returning lands to their former owners or heirs and/or to local communities and institutions. Privatization, in this context, refers primarily to a transfer of property rights over forestland from the state to a private entity.
Many of the private landowners that emerged since the early 1990s are small forest owners. The increasingly small size of forest holdings makes viable forest management difficult because each property generates only a small amount of income, and harvests typically take place on long intervals. Many of these owners have limited forestry expertise and investment capital. This has created a need for support services and institutions that can lower the transaction costs, to realize economies of scale and provide critical services to many small-scale forest owners. Forest owner associations (FOA) and forest owner cooperatives (FOC) are potentially effective means to address the constraints and challenges faced by small-scale forest owners in Eastern European countries.
The aims of the study thus were to better understand the origin, evolution and current situation of forest owner associations and cooperatives in selected Eastern European countries, assess their effectiveness and analyze lessons learned from their experience with regards to legislation, policies, strategies, institutional support and economic aspects. The study covered the following six countries: Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia.
Read the project report here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/me171e/me171e00.pdf (last visited 15.5.2018)