Forest ownership change: trends and issues

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Special issue "Forest ownership change: trends and issues" aims to contribute to a better understanding of the role of forest owners in forest management, not only through forest owner typology studies. Special issue contains 16 highly interesting papers.

It builds on work from 30 European countries, coordinated through the European COST Action FP1201 FOREST LAND OWNERSHIP CHANGES IN EUROPE: SIGNIFICANCE FOR MANAGEMENT AND POLICY (FACESMAP), 2012–2016, as well as the scientific conference on “Forest ownership changes in Europe: trends, issues and needs for action” (, 7–8 September 2016, in Vienna, the final conference of the Action.

Drawing on literature analyses, an evidence review across the 30 participating countries, a survey in the whole ECE region, and a series of stakeholder workshops, the COST Action described the manifold dimensions of changing ownership, both in their local contexts and spatially across Europe, and provides an analysis of the relationships between such ownership changes, forest management approaches, and effectiveness of policy support.  The papers in this Special Issue take a multidisciplinary approach, including sociological, economics and political science perspectives. The articles are based on both data jointly collected in the frame of the COST Action and on additional data collected by the authors of the articles. Some of the articles give broad and comprehensive overviews of status and developments across Europe, others take a comparative view of cases from selected countries, and some present a single case study with broader conceptual or practical implications. A special focus lies on literature reviews of forest ownership studies and conceptual work for the analysis of forest ownership change and specific ownership forms. The common work in the COST Action was supported by a series of stakeholder workshops on European and local levels (so-called Travellab), with the aim to understand European level stakeholder perspectives as well as local contexts across Europe. In this way, the Action aimed to connect to forest management on the ground as well as to relevant policy processes and stakeholders.

The FACESMAP COST Action results and this Special Issue come timely since ownership issues are crucial for the sustainable use and management of forests as aimed for, among others, in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDG 15) and in relation to the contribution of forests to mitigate climate change via an optimized utilization of renewable materials in a bio-economy.

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