Forest ownership changes in Europe: State of knowledge and conceptual foundations


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Many of the authors of this paper come from EFI's network.

Forest ownership is changing in Europe. Reasons include recent institutional changes in Eastern Europe, changing lifestyles of non-agricultural owners and afforestation. At present, there is little comparative analysis across Europe, and the implications that these changes have for forest management and for the fulfilment and redefinition of policy objectives have not been addressed systematically. This paper has been developed in the framework of a European research network on forest ownership change, based on conceptual work, literature reviews and empirical evidence from 28 European countries. It aims to provide an overview of the state of knowledge, to discuss relevant issues and provide conceptual and practical foundations for future research, forest management approaches, and policy making. In particular, it discusses possible approaches for classifying forest ownership types and understandings of “new” forest ownership. One important insight is that the division into public and private forests is not as clear as often assumed and that an additional category of semi-public (or semi-private) forms of forest ownership would be desirable. Another recommendation is that the concepts of “new forest owners” vs. “new forest owner types” should be differentiated more consciously. We observe that, in research and policy practice, the mutual relations between forest ownership structure and policies are often neglected, for instance, how policies may directly and indirectly influence ownership development, and what different ownership categories mean for the fulfilment of policy goals. Finally, we propose that better support should be provided for the development of new, adapted forest management approaches for emerging forest owner types. Forest ownership deserves greater attention in studies dealing with forest policy or forest management.

Gerhard Weiss, Anna Lawrence, Teppo Hujala, Gun Lidestav, Liviu Nichiforel, Erlend Nybakk, Sonia Quiroga, Zuzana Sarvašová, Cristina Suarez, Ivana Živojinović, Forest ownership changes in Europe: State of knowledge and conceptual foundations, Forest Policy and Economics, 2018.