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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Family forest owners’ perception of management and thinning operations in young dense forests: a survey from Sweden

Kronholm, Thomas; Bengtsson, David; Bergström, Dan


Family forest owners (FFOs) own 48% of Sweden’s productive forest land and are responsible for 59% of the annual gross felling. They are thus important suppliers of raw materials to the forest industry and the energy sector. Environmental goals on the national and international level promote an increased use of renewable resources in order to replace fossil-based fuels, but since the current supply of forest products is already fully utilized by the industry, there is a need to find new types of biomass assortment. One way to increase the biomass supply is to replace traditional pre-commercial thinning operations, where fallen stems are left in the forest to rot, with whole-tree harvesting of small-diameter trees using novel technologies and methods. This will however require willingness of the FFOs to shift their management practices. The objectives of this study were, therefore, to elucidate FFOs’ perceptions of management and thinning operations in young dense forests, identify if there are differences depending on their demographic backgrounds, and clarify which factors could potentially affect their willingness to implement whole-tree harvesting in young dense forests. Data were collected through a survey administered to a random sample of 842 FFOs, with a response rate of 53.4% (n = 450). The results show that FFOs in general are positive towards implementing whole-tree harvesting in young dense stands, and are often also willing to promote the development of suitable stands. Factors such as forest size, geographical location, distance from home to their forest, degree of self-employment and current need for cleaning were found to significantly affect their attitudes. The study highlights that the development of cost efficient harvesting techniques and working methods is important if the industry wants to increase the FFOs’ willingness to engage in whole-tree harvesting in young dense forest stands and thereby increase the supply of biomass.


harvesting; biomass; bioenergy; attitudes; small-scale forestry

Published in

2020, Volume: 11, number: 11, article number: 1151