ValoFor: Small Forests - Big Players, Valorizing small scale forestry for a bio-based economy. A ForestValue research project.
While we have ideas about the effect of single management actions on short and long-term forest growth and wood production (i.e. Jansson et al. 2017), the effect of complete management strategies has rarely been assessed on transnational level for wood production, ecosystem services and resilience (but see Nabuurs et al. 2018 for case studies on climate smart forestry). Nevertheless, policy makers and stakeholders from a wide range of groups (wood and paper industry, nature conservation groups, climate groups, scientist, etc.) promote and support small forests owners with a wide variety of different management actions within one or the other of these strategies often accompanied by national or European subsidies or incentive schemes.
At present, major forest products in Europe are based on timber from coniferous forest in agreement with worldwide numbers (EOS 2018). The traditional production systems are, however, threatened by climate change and future timber supply was found to be seriously hampered by global warming (Hanewinkel et al. 2012). Hope comes from new industrial utilizations of hardwood raw materials, though the rotation periods are longer and the forest volume stocks are generally lower in deciduous forest in temperate Europe. An efficient substitution of timber from conifers by products made from hardwoods is the objective of intensive research but has not yet been successfully implemented. It is thus questionable, if future applications will results into higher prices and better revenues for wood from deciduous stands. For small forest owners, a change from conifers to deciduous trees might therefore results in decreasing income.
The “new” forest owners differ from previous generations in that they are more likely to live in an urban area, are less dependent of forest revenues as they work in other sectors, are higher educated, are older, and to a higher extent than before women. However, the changes in the perceptions of the forest owners are not fully considered in the analyses of the wood supply and growth of bioeconomy.