Governance of private forests in Eastern and Central Europe: An analysis of forest harvesting and management rights
Keywords:forest management planning, private forests, governance, owners participation, harvesting, Eastern, Central and Baltic Europe, property rights
AbstractA property rights-based approach is proposed in the paper to underline the common characteristics of the forest property rights specification in ten ECE countries, the specific patterns governing the harvesting of timber in private forestry and the role of the forest management planning in determining the content of the property rights. The analysis deals with the private forests of the individuals (non industrial ownership) from ten countries, covering 7.3 million ha and producing yearly some 25 million m3 timber. The study shows that the forest management rights in private forests belong to the State and that the withdrawal rights on timber, yet recognised in the forest management plans, are in reality strongly restricted from an economic viewpoint. The forest management planning is the key instrument of the current forest governance system, based on top-down, hierarchically imposed and enforced set of compulsory rules on timber harvesting. With few exceptions, the forest owners have little influence in the forest planning and harvesting. The rational and State-lead approach of the private forest management has serious implications not only on the economic content of the property rights, but also on the learning and adaptive capacity of private forestry to cope with current challenges such the climate change, the increased industry needs for wood as raw material, or the marketing of innovative non wood forest products and services. The study highlights that understanding and comparing the regime of the forest ownership require a special analysis of the economic rights attached to each forest attribute; and that the evolution towards more participatory decision-making in the local forest governance can not be accurately assessed in ECE region without a proper understanding of the forest management planning process.
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