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Content archived on 2024-05-07

Multifunctional forestry as a means to rural development establishing criteria for region-specific strategies for balancing public demands and forest owners objectives


As reflected in various EU and national policies, throughout the European Community forestry's role in diversifying the countryside by improving forest management and establishing new forests is being promoted. The rationale is that forests are a valuable natural resource in rural areas, and that multi functional forestry can contribute significantly to rural development. However, in many European countries the demands being placed on forests are changing. The new demands are not always consistent with expectations of landowners. Consequently, the social impacts of forestry are increasingly subject to discussion. If forestry is to achieve its potential in relation to rural development it is vital that the variable, and sometimes conflicting, demands of society be accounted for. This requires the identification of the location-specific attitudes and demands of the various interest groups. Considerable research effort has already been directed towards the economic contribution of forestry to rural development. The social impacts have not received the same attention due largely to the difficulties of ascertaining and quantifying them. This Project aims to bridge this research gap by determining the attitudes of the various interest groups to forestry, in particular to the role of multifunctional forestry in rural development.

The Project will carry-out a series of case-studies to analyse and compare:
i) the options and constraints for landowners to practice forestry and;
ii)the public's attitude towards forestry and rural development.

The effects of ongoing rural transformations and policy measures with respect to rural development on the forest ownership and activities will also be assessed. The Project will contribute information concerning regional variations in the relationship between the demand for and supply of forest goods and services, and how this relationship is perceived by landowners and the general public. The situation in each of the 9 European countries involved in the Project will be compared and the major (physical, socio-economic, political) factors influencing the potential of multifunctional forestry serving rural development will be identified. The results will be used to develop a set of criteria for region-specific options for multifunctional forestry and the identification of new forestry development strategies.


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Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen
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64,Generaal Foulkesweg
6703 BV Wageningen

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