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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Multiple-use forestry as a boundary object: From a shared ideal to multiple realities

Hoogstra-Klein, M. A.; Brukas, V.; Wallin, I.


Today, multiple-use (or multifunctional) forestry is one of the main concepts guiding European forestry. While there is wide acceptance of the overall concept, here is a lack of coherence in definitions, policies and practices. Such outcomes indicate that multiple-use forestry (MUF) may contain the essential properties of a "boundary object", i.e. something that is robust enough to conceptually unite different interests, but at the same time is flexible enough to encompass different practices in line with local needs and conditions. This study sets out to explore the conceptualization and implementation of MUF as a boundary object, examining the overall trends at an international level, and scrutinising the national specifics in three case countries: Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden. The review of international literature finds no consensus on what MUF is, beyond combining two or more forest functions or uses. The case countries show widely different approaches to conceptualizing and implementing MUF, not least in terms of spatial scales for integrating or segregating various functions. The analysis indicates that we should not expect instrumentation of MUF toward uniform guidelines to shape forestry practices throughout Europe. Rather it will continue to serve the profession as a boundary object that serves as a mediating concept between various interests while being inclusive of a wide set of forestry practices.


Forest functions; Forest policy; Forest management; Lithuania; the Netherlands; Sweden

Published in

Land Use Policy
2017, Volume: 69, pages: 247-258