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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Towards sustainable forest management in the European Union through polycentric forest governance and an integrated landscape approach

Lazdinis, Marius; Angelstam, Per; Puelzl, Helga


ContextAchieving sustainable development as an inclusive societal process, and securing sustainability and resilience of human societies as well as the natural environment are wicked problems. Realising sustainable forest management (SFM) policy in local landscapes is one example.ObjectivesUsing the European Union as a case study for the implementation of SFM policy across multiple governance levels in different contexts, we discuss the benefits of adopting an integrated landscape approach with place and space, partnership and sustainability as three pillars.MethodsWe map the institutional frameworks for implementing SFM policy within all EU member states. Next, we analyse whether or not there is EU-level forest governance, and how power is distributed among EU, member state and operational levels.ResultsMechanisms to steer a centralized forest governance approach towards SFM in the EU are marginal. Instead, there is a polycentric forest governance with 90 national and sub-national governments, which create and implement own and EU-wide SFM-related policies. Additionally, both among and within regional governance units there is a large variation in governance arrangements linked to land ownership at the operational level.ConclusionsTo effectively translate EU-wide SFM and SFM-related policies into action in local landscapes, it is crucial to acknowledge that there are different land ownership structures, landscape histories and alternative value chains based on multiple ecosystem services. Therefore regionally adapted landscape approaches engaging multiple stakeholders and actors through evidence-based landscape governance and stewardship towards sustainable forest landscape management are needed. Model Forest, Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research platform and Biosphere Reserve are three of many examples.


Ecosystem services; European Union; Land ownership; Landscape history; Region; Value chain

Published in

Landscape Ecology
2019, Volume: 34, number: 7, pages: 1737-1749
Publisher: SPRINGER

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG15 Life on land
      SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Forest Science

      Publication Identifiers


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