The European forest-based sector is undergoing major changes, while, at the same time, the role of a forest-based bioeconomy is being politically discussed. The aim of this study is to elicit expert views on critical changes in the sector through an outlook towards 2030 and 2050, as well as to analyze how these views relate to the understanding of bioeconomy. The study employs a three-round Delphi survey with 41 experts representing different sectors and societal perspectives across Europe. Forty statements based on initial explorative interviews were evaluated by the panel in two consecutive rounds of web-based questionnaires. Results reveal the highest consensus among panellists relates to the diversification of the forest industries and the dependence of the sector on climate and energy policies. The greatest dispersion of expert opinions was found to relate to the possible discontinuation of bioenergy market growth, the possible segregation of forest management, change in forest ownership structure, and the shortage of biomass supply in the long–run. Additionally, the concept of bioeconomy was regarded by the majority as a vision for the future, rather than a depiction of real changes. Notably, major change regarding the significance of the sector, and specifically a transition towards a well-developed forest based bioeconomy, was not expected towards 2030 without significant change in the policy framework.
Hurmekoski, E. Lovrić, M., Lovrić, N., Hetemäki, L., Winkel, G. 2019. Frontiers of the forest-based bioeconomy – A European Delphi study. Forest Policy and Economics 102 (2019) 86–99