While deforestation continues at an alarming rate around the world, discussions on the range of underlying causes continue. With a view to pushing forward these discussions, a team of leading forest scientists from around the world have adopted a case study approach aimed identifying key features which can contribute to a successful transition to sustainable forestry. The premise is that studying successful transitions from deforestation to sustainable forestry ex post, can provide novel insights into how deforestation elsewhere might be reduced in the future.
Drawing on relevant economic, ecological and development theory, this book presents a novel framework within which this case study approach is developed. It goes on to present the empirical findings for one key case study - Finland - revealing two historical transitional phases within the Finnish forest sector. The first is the transition to sustained yields of timber in the first half of the 20th Century; the second is the more recent transition to sustainable forest management (SFM). Given Finland's position as the world's second largest net exporter of forest products, while maintaining the highest forest cover in Europe, then understanding the issues at play in this example could provide valuable understanding for successful transitions elsewhere.
The study reveals that the interaction of public policies and market institutions has appeared to be critical during this transition from open access to sustained yields of timber. The study's findings suggest that a continuous increase in the real value of forests has been a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for this transition. In a parallel way public policies have also proved to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition in this transition. The conclusion is that open access forestry, along with corruption, are artificially maintaining too low values for some forests. The result is that the opportunity costs of sustainable forestry remain too high and deforestation therefore continues.
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