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Forest Land Ownership Change in Europe : COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country Reports Joint Volume

Živojinović, Ivana (ed.); Weiss, Gerhard (ed.); Lidestav, Gun (ed.); Feliciano, Diana (ed.); Hujala, Teppo (ed.); Dobšinská, Zuzana (ed.); Lawrence, Anna (ed.); Nybakk, Erlend (ed.); Quiroga, Sonia (ed.); Schraml, Ulrich (ed.)


Summary results.  In course of the literature review on forest ownership in change, all in all, we collectedaround 250 reports/publications, which were identified as the most important sources on thistopic on the national level. From these 250 sources, there are 60 papers published in SCIjournals. Most of the references cover topic of motivation and behaviour of different ownershiptypes. Forest ownership change, new management approaches and policy instruments are alsofairly covered in the selected sources.So who are the owners of those private owners? Literature shows that there is increasingdiversity of forest owner types. In an effort to categorize forest owners according to actual orexpected management behaviour, typologies have been developed by the researchers, with amore or less explicit ambition to inform policy design and communication between authorities,forest owner representatives and the individual forest owners. The typologies, however, differand use the following terms to characterize different owner types: ‘resident owners’ vs. ‘nonresidentowners’, ‘farmers’ vs. ‘non-farmers’, ‘associated owners’ vs. ‘not associated owners’, orcharacterizing them as ‘economist owners’, ‘multi objective owners’, ‘self-employed persons’,‘recreationists’, or ‘passive/resignated owners’.In order to describe the forest ownership structure in each country, we asked for the dataaccording to the national statistics and to the global forest resource assessment (FRA). Thedata show complex and diverse classifications of forest owner types, which makes it difficult tocompare across the countries. The main differences that arise between the national statisticsare in relation to the following three aspects:• different definitions and methodologies used in terms of categories of forest owner types(e.g. in some countries municipality forests are considered as a private, in others as apublic ownership category);• different definitions of forest area (what is forest);• differences in terms of the time gap between data collection and publication of thestatistics.Furthermore, we have looked at various factors or measures that might influence thedevelopment of the forest ownership structure:• Cases of unclear or disputed ownership exist, for example as a result of: unfinishedrestitution processes in Eastern European countries, or in other countries in relation to aweak land register and cadastre (e.g. in Portugal there is limited cadastre on forestholdings, and only 40% of municipalities and 50% of the national territory is covered bycadastral survey; disputes arising due to the mistakes in previous cadastres in CzechRepublic, etc.), or due to specific issues, such as the rights of access granted byEveryman’s Rights (‘Freedom of Public Access’) and issue of the Sami land ownership inNorthern Lapland (the ILO Convention No. 169 concerning the rights of the indigenousand tribal people has not been ratified in Finland or Sweden) in Finland.• Restrictions related to buying or selling the forests, which in some cases aim to limitfragmentation (e.g. in Austria farms are not allowed to sell off parcels if the remaining farmholding would be too small to be profitable; in Slovakia dividing of forests lands intoparcels with an area of less than 0.5 ha is forbidden by the law); some prescribe preemptiverights (e.g. priority of buying is often given to the neighbours e.g. in Austria,France, Lithuania, Slovenia, etc., or according to the criteria of knowledge and experienceof forest management of new buyers, e.g. in Austria, Estonia, etc), and some of them limitbuying the forest by foreigners (e.g. in Hungary). In most countries, restrictions exist inrelation to selling state forests (e.g. in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina it is strictlyforbidden to sell state forest land (except in cases of the consolidation, according to thespatial plan), and in Croatia the legal restrictions are applying only for public ownedforests and they cannot be sold (according to the Constitution and Forest Act) but theycan be given in long – term leases, etc.). In some countries there are specific rulesapplied to community forests (e.g., Austria and Romania).COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country ReportsIVJOINT VOLUMESpecific rules related to inheritance, aim in some countries to limit fragmentation (e.g. InAustria traditional farm holdings (“Erbhöfe”) should not be divided but given as a whole to onlyone heir; in Slovakia existing forest land can be divided into several parcels between heirs. Ifthe area of new plot is less than 2 ha, the inheritor is obligated to pay a fee of 10% of the valueof the land. In case of an area of less than 1 ha, the amount of the fee is 20% of the value of theforest land; or in Spanish province of Catalonia, where the most of the families respect the oldrule “El hereu”, which is the informal institution that establish the inheritance rights to the eldestson to avoid the division on the properties). And in some countries there are specific rulesapplied to inheritance of community forests.Common property regimes, such as rural common ownership/rural communities have beenidentified to exist in 16 countries. Aside of the traditional form of rural common ownership whichdates back to pre-modern times, community ownership exists also as a new development, the United Kingdom, or in the Czech Republic, and in Sweden where so called “new Swedishforest commons” have been established in the late 19th century, as response to the remainedunallocated land in the interior of Northern Sweden, and in connection to a widespread landtenure reform.Furthermore, gender issues have been explored in the frame of our Action. The proportion offemale forest owners ranges in the different countries from 3% in Bosnia and Herzegovina toalmost 52% in Lithuania or 48% in Slovenia. In general, due to changes in heritage practicesand other societal changes, the group of female forest owners has increased across Europe,currently estimated to be about 30% in average of all small-scale forest property holders. Yet, inmany countries gender disaggregated data do not exist at all, while in others to be ratherincomplete, which makes this issue very challenging for studying. The question if gendermatters in forest ownership and in forest management, is a question which had been dealt within a few countries but still not in the most of the Action countries.A growing number and proportion of private forest owners, boosted by societal trends such aseconomic globalisation of agricultural and forest products, labour market change, populationincrease and urbanisation had the most apparent and direct impact on the transformation offorest ownership structure across Europe. In some countries these changes can be attributed tothe structural changes in the European agricultural sector in general and the family farmingsystem in particular, as much of the small-scale forest ownership historically has beenassociated with small-scale farming. While in other countries these changes have been boostedby various political forces and circumstances (e.g. restitution, privatisation, etc.). These changestogether with very different conditions in terms of forest ownership structure across Europe, aswell as various and diverse ecological, socio-economic and market conditions have influencedthe forest owners perception on forestry, thus changing their objectives and attitude towardforest management, and in many cases influenced to what extent owners see forest as a sourceof income or not. Many of these changes are suspected to lead to an increasing number offorest owners having other objectives than wood-production, which is seen as a threat orchallenge from the view point of current forestry practices.One of the primary focuses in the Action was to get a more comprehensive overview of existingtrends of forest ownership change in Europe. Thus we identified the four main types ofongoing trends and explored them in detail in each country. These trends are as follows:1. Restitution and privatization of forest land is one of the important trends: In EE and SEEcountries restitution processes took place since 1990s and is still unfinished in many ofthese countries. This process assumes giving back the forest land to private forest ownersfrom whom it was taken during communist times. Privatization is also important to someextent in United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden.2. Trend of new forest ownership through buying forest (from private to private)is importantin some countries, such as Estonia where many foreign investors are buying forest. Thisis also assessed as a rather important trend in Romania and Latvia where investmentfunds buy forest land.COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country ReportsVJOINT VOLUME3. Afforestation can bring new ownership as formerly agricultural land is converted intoforest. This trend is rather important in Ireland and Poland, but also in United Kingdom,Norway and Latvia.4. Trends of lifestyle change and changes in the motivation and attitudes of the ownersseem to be particularly important in the western and northern part of Europe. Some of theindicators identified that cause these changes are: less farming, aging population,depopulation of rural areas, as well as changed or new objectives and goals for forestmanagement. It must be said, however, that these trends are particularly difficult tomeasure in a standardized way across countries.In the Country Reports, we tried to identify examples for new or innovative forestmanagement approaches that might be particularly relevant for new forest owner types(such as urban or absentee forest owners). As a fact, in most countries no new forestmanagement approaches were identified which would be specifically applied by “new” forestowners. Besides of traditional forest management for timber production there is an emergingtrend to secure conservation and social functions of forests (e.g. recreation) and in cases it maybe that new forest owners are more open to these new goals.The most reported innovative approach in forest management is cooperation in forestmanagement which can take various forms such as forest owners associations, cooperatives,associations for joint management, etc.There seem to be a quite significant trend of changing silvicultural practices in many countries,which is thus considered as innovative. Examples are, e.g. more close-to-nature management,increased use of autochthonous tree species, improving species mix in the stands, etc. Wenotice, however, that this trend is independent from ownership changes as such.The following opportunities for innovative forest management have been suggested by theresearchers:• energy wood or forest biomass is seen as one of the main opportunities for innovativeforest management (BE, HR, CZ, EE, FR, EL, HU, IE, UK); followed by• the establishment and collaboration of forest owners associations (BE, HR, EE, DE, HU,LT, RO);• payments for ecosystem services (BE, EE, FR, HU, IE, SK, ES); and• improving the knowledge of forest owners through strengthening the role and quality ofadvisory services (BG, HR, HU, IE, RO, RS, SE).• non-wood forest products and services are also mentioned (BE, RS, CZ, EE, EL, SI).Other themes are:• to improve policy tools for private forest owners (EE) or forestry legislation (RO; HU, ES –mainly fragmentation);• to use financial support from EU funds (BG, LT, RO);• recreational use (BE, FR, RS);• certification (CZ, GR); and• wood mobilization (SI, CH).• forest owners´ peer-to-peer learning as an innovative concept, not to replace the guidancegiven by forest professionals but to support and complement the prevailing extensionpractices when the aim is to inform, engage and inspire forest owners (SE).Obstacles for innovative forest management were diverse, but we found some topics whichwere repeated in many countries. The main obstacle lies in lack of knowledge amongst privateforest owners and among the related advisory system that should provide information to privateforest owners. It is often perceived that “new” forest owners do not have the knowledge tomanage their forests. Here the advisory system plays an important role (AT, BG, CZ, EE, FR,MK, HU, IE, LV, LT, RO, RS, CH, UK-small owners). Closely linked is the knowledge of advisoryservices, managers and forest workers which often appears to be very traditional and does notreflect the management goals and needs of new forest owners (AT, MK, FI, RS, SE, GB). Lackof entrepreneurial thinking (‘business thinking’) was recognized as lacking in many countriesCOST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country ReportsVIJOINT VOLUMEand thus constraining the management. This has strengthened over the last years, and may beseen already in the forest related policies and the contemporary discourse in the Nordiccountries.The following specific obstacles for innovative forest management have been collected:• lack of incentives and/or financial support (BE, EL, HU, IE, LV, LT, NO, PT, RS, SK, UK)• fragmentation issues (AT, BE, BG, HR, EE, FR, HU, EE, PT, CH)• limited profitability of forest management (AT, BE, BG, EE, LV, NO, PO, SK)• accessibility to forest (BE, HR, GR,NO, RO, SK)• problematic legislation (BA, HR, CZ, EL, RO) or forest policy (HU, RS, SK, ES)• low coordination between actors (FR, NO, RS)• private forest owner do not have role in decision making (BA, CH, RS)• lack of new technologies & lack of willingness to use innovative techniques (MK, PO, UK –investment companies)• distrust/limited knowledge of how to work in forest owner’s organisations (FOOs) (BG, CZ)• absence of forestry market (HR, ES)• some country specific cases− poor cadastre and land-registry & insufficient road infrastructure (HR)− availability of land (UK – environmental NGOs)− illegal logging (RO)− inactive forest owner’s organisations (BA).We have asked, in how far policies exist that directly influence on the development offorest ownership in the countries. Quite different kinds of policies exist that, for instance,create new forest ownership (such as through afforestation) or that aim to limit fragmentation orthat react to increasing fragmentation of ownership. Many countries report problems related tofragmented ownership (BE, BA, BG, HR, EE, CZ, FI, FR, HU, MK, LT, RO, CH). Overall, thefollowing relevant policies were identified:• In many countries, measures to support afforestation are applied which in effect maycreate new forest owners (AT, BE, BA, CZ, FI, IE, LV, LT, NO, PT, RO, RS, SK).• In some countries the restitution process or denationalization process of returningproperty to former owners has not finished yet (BA, EE, HR, LT, LV, MK, RS, SK, RO).• In a few countries specific inheritance rules aim to limit fragmentation (AT, SI, NO), orother legislation (e.g. related to buying and selling) exists that limits fragmentation (LT,SE).• Support for the creation of forest owner’s organisations (FOOs) aims to help in themanagement of fragmented forests (CZ, BE, FI, RS, SE), or activities of FOOs aregenerally supported (HR, NO, RS).• Delivering specific policies aiming for allocation of funds/financial incentives for forestrelated activities (BG, FR, UK).• In a few countries, new legal forms of ownership have been created recently: In Belgium,family forest associations; in the UK, community interest companies (which started inScotland as an off-shoot of the Land Rights movement and was facilitated by the LandReform Act) and charitable incorporated organisations (between 1963 and 1996 around 6-7% of the estates responding to their survey were owned by a charity but by 2005 this hasdoubled with 12-14%).In Finland, it was decided to quit the forest management fee system in order to enableincreased competition of forestry services in the market by revising the law concerningForest Management Associations. The change is aimed to increase forest owners’freedom of choice and to improve the competitive position of other forest serviceproviders. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has put efforts intoimproving the forest holding size structure. The policy aim, declared in the Finland'sNational Forest Strategy 2025 (2015), is to increase the land area share of over 50 haholdings from 56% to 70% between 2013 to 2025. This is actually a noteworthy change inCOST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country ReportsVIIJOINT VOLUMEpolicy, which has the focus on total land area of "large" holdings, while the number ofsmallest fragmented parcels are not fought against so hard any more.The reports furthermore deal with the question, in how far policies specifically addressdifferent ownership categories or in how far policy instruments exist that are targeted at newforest owners. Overall we can conclude that there are hardly any specific policies that targetdifferent and/or new types of private forest owners. Forest policy and legislation is usually thesame for all ownership categories. Specific policies apply to state forests and in some countriesfor rural common ownership.According to the country reports, there are hardly specific policies that target new forestowners:• the most utilized policy instruments are the advisory services (CZ, FI, FR, DE, EL, IE, LV,LT, RO, UK) and forestry extension (HR, LV) but it is difficult to find specifically targetedprogrammes or actions• provision of subsidies for forest management (BA, EE, MK, PT, GB)• policies supporting creation of small-scale forest owners associations (BE, CZ, LV, SK)• improvement of National Forest Policies (BG, LT)• obtaining EU Funds for forestry (CZ, SK).We have identified in the country reports three specific programmes addressing new or nontraditionalforest owners that are worth mentioning:• The Metsää online service that offers opportunities for city-dwellers and other absenteeforest owners to be better able to manage their forest ownership (FI);• Specific courses offered for female forest owners (FI);• A national actions plan for e-information and pedagogical tools, which is in progress andwill take in consideration new forest owners. The aim is both to better identify and knowwho new forest owners are, and to better meet their expectations (FR).Finally, we have asked the national experts to give the most important factors that accordingto their view affect innovation in the national forest policies. In summary, they followingfactors have been identified:• lack of forest owners associations (BE, BA, FR, MK, SK, PL)• top-down policy formulation (FR, SI, RS, SK)• lack of funding (public) for forestry (LT, SK, CZ, EE)• strictly regulated private forestry (BA, LT, RO, SI)• forestry plays a minor role in the economy and policy (BE, NO, RS, CH)• traditional orientation of forest policies and advisory services (AT, HR, LT)• lack of political lobby (FR, SK, PL)• lack of different market mechanisms and regulations (FI, SK, UK)• challenge of small-scale and fragmented properties (HR, PO)• country specific cases:− different needs of different ownership types (AT)− lack of political will and cadastral problems (HR)− strong political lobby (FI).COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country ReportsVIIIJOINT VOLUMEReflectionsThe twenty eight Country Reports collected in this joint volume clearly show that there aresignificant changes of forest ownership patterns across Europe, impacting forest managementand policy goals. The drivers of these changes are various societal and political developments,somewhat differing across Europe. They range from structural changes of agriculture andconnected lifestyle changes dominating in western, central and northern Europe, to restitutionprocesses in eastern and south-eastern Europe, and privatization and decentralization policiesin a few countries in different regions (e.g. in United Kingdom). These changes are oftensimultaneous or connected to each other and mostly lead to an increase of the number ofprivate forest owners and a smaller size of the estates. In the view of many stakeholders, thishigh fragmentation of forest parcels creates challenging conditions for forest management. Itseems that together with various changing ecological, socio-economic and market conditionsacross Europe it resulted in a change of forest owners’ perceptions and attitudes towards forestmanagement. Thus, in the last years a range of new types of forest owners have been identifiedin many studies across Europe. These studies mostly aim to identify the objectives of thesevarious forest owner types and they sometimes study which implications this has on forestmanagement and policy. Many of these identified, so-called “new” forest owners, are holdingonly small parcels, have no agricultural or forestry knowledge and no capacity or interest tomanage their forests. This increase in number of forest owners having other objectives thanwood production challenges the current forestry practices.Furthermore, the country reports aim to describe what are the responses of management andpolicy to these challenges and “new” conditions. With regard to management no new forestmanagement approaches were identified which would be specifically applied to “new” forestowners. Many obstacles are identified for innovative forest management approaches that couldpotentially respond to these challenges. The obstacles mainly relate to a lack of knowledgeamongst private forest owners and among the related advisory systems. Quite often theknowledge of advisory services, managers and forest workers appears to be very traditional anddoes not reflect the management goals and needs of new forest owners. Furthermore, a lack ofentrepreneurial thinking is as well recognised. It seems that this situation is currently changing,and new solutions for forest management are sought for in different countries. While in somecountries more traditional approaches are seen as innovative (e.g. associations or forestowners, change of silvicutural measures, etc.) others are exploring new options (e.g.certification, payments for ecosystem services, wood mobilisation, etc.). Even though these newforest management approaches are often not specifically developed for new forest owner types,they still may be relevant for them to some extent.Situation is similar in terms of policies that specifically address different ownership categoriesand in general we can see that there are hardly any specific policies that target different and/ornew types of private forest owners across Europe. Forest policy and legislation is usually thesame for all ownership categories. Some of the countries, such as France and Finland are moreadvanced in this terms, and have developed specific programmes addressing new or nontraditionalforest owners. Although explicit policies targeting new forest owner types hardly exist,some policy changes (e.g. the forest policy overhaul in Finland) have acknowledged thechanging ownership and aim at (among other things) tackling the challenges induced bychanging forest ownership patterns.The changing patterns are better visible when looked at national or even local scale. Therefore,the detailed descriptions on specific country conditions, as well as specific case studies(national/regional/local) explaining certain phenomena, change or trends provided in thecollected Country Reports, illustrate changing patterns of forest ownership identified in thisAction. These Country Reports are serving as a basis for further detailed analysis and work inthe Action.COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country Reports CONTENTSContents

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ISBN: 978-3-900932-26-8
Publisher: European Forest Institute Central-East and South-East European Regional Office