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Adaptation in Forest Management Under Changing Framework Conditions

About the topics of the symposium

The IUFRO Research Groups 3.08 Small-Scale Forestry and 4.05 Managerial Economics and Accounting both place emphasis on microeconomic issues of forest management. Environmental and forest conditions, property rights, traditions, the structure of the forestry sector and the related policies are among the many factors that make small-scale forestry very diverse at the global level, providing an attractive field for researchers. The special aspects of small-scale forestry imply management techniques, and decision support and information systems which are tailored to the circumstances. This creates a common ground for the two Research Groups to discuss changes in the framework conditions of forest management and the economics of possible responses.

Forests are exposed to a wide range of changes due to their ability to survive for decades and centuries. So is forest management, which must harmonize the shifting demands for the various services of forests with the supply determined by the current state of forests, while maintaining the forestsí ability to adapt in the future.

Framework conditions are driving factors that are mostly beyond control of forest management. Some of them are part of the natural environment such as normal climate variability, biological selection and telluric forces. But most drivers are determined by human activities, and particularly by technological, demographic, socio-economic, socio-political, and cultural conditions and evolutions. They influence the demand and supply of forest products, the costs and benefits of forest activities considered at both financial and social levels. Countries in transition experience changes in their social, economic and political systems and, consequently, in their ownership structure. Moreover, these drivers impact forestry through emissions that affect air and soil quality (pollution) and climate. They also induce land-use changes and pressures towards unsustainable management, both in developing and developed countries.

These framework conditions may change over a few years. The ability to respond to such changes is a key element of sustainable forest management. Reliable information systems are necessary to monitor, understand, and analyse changes when they occur, and to build plausible scenarios for the future through modelling and foresight studies in order to support decision making. Changes in the natural environment are usually the result of human activities and can have significant effects in the long run. Climate change, disturbances in water systems, acidification and degradation of soils are among the many environmental processes to which forest management has to adapt, and in which appropriate forest management can be used as a tool for mitigation.

Ever faster population growth has a fundamental impact on land use in developing countries, as well as on the demand for agricultural and forest products. The countries in transition sometimes experience turbulent changes in their economies, political systems and for instance in the ownership structure of forests. In developed countries the emerging needs of societies require new approaches in forest management.

Economic conditions can change over a few years or in an even shorter period of time. The ability to adapt to economic changes is a key element of sustainable forest management. Consequently, forest management requires reliable information systems to support decision making.

Changes are usually regarded as obstacles, but they can also be viewed as opportunities to be exploited. Both approaches are welcome, in the form of oral presentations and full papers on the following topics: