How private are Europe’s private forests? A comparative property rights analysis | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
July 2018
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Private forests are widespread in Europe providing a range of ecosystem services of significant value to society, and there are calls for novel policies to enhance their provision and to face the challenges of environmental changes. Such policies need to acknowledge the importance of private forests, and importantly they need to be based on a deep understanding of how property rights held by private forest owners vary across Europe. We collected and analysed data on the content of property rights based on formal legal requirements existing in 31 European jurisdictions. To allow a comparison across jurisdictions, we constructed an original Property Rights Index for Forestry encompassing five rights domains (access, withdrawal, management, exclusion and alienation). We documented substantial variation of the private forest owners’ rights, and notably to i) make decisions in operational management and the formulation of management goals, ii) withdraw timber resources from their forest, and iii) exclude others from the use of forest resources. We identified broad relations between the scope for decision making of private forest owners and jurisdictions’ former socio-political background and geographical distribution. The variation in the content of property rights has implications for the implementation of international environmental policies, and stresses the need for tailored policy instruments, when addressing European society’s rural development, the bioeconomy, climate change mitigation measures and nature protection strategies.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Nichiforel, Liviu
Keary, Kevin
Deuffic, Philippe
Weiss, Gerhard
Thorsen, Bo Jellesmark
Winkel, Georg
Avdibegović, Mersudin
Dobšinská, Zuzana
Feliciano, Diana
Gatto, Paola
Gorriz Mifsud, Elena
Hoogstra-Klein, Marjanke
Hrib, Michal
Hujala, Teppo
Jager, Laszlo
Jarský, Vilém
Jodłowski, Krzysztof
Lawrence, Anna
Lukmine, Diana
Pezdevšek Malovrh, Špela
Nedeljković, Jelena
Nonić, Dragan
Krajter Ostoić, Silvija
Pukall, Klaus
Rondeux, Jacques
Samara, Theano
Sarvašová, Zuzana
Scriban, Ramona Elena
Šilingienė, Rita
Sinko, Milan
Stojanovska, Makedonka
Stojanovski, Vladimir
Stoyanov, Nickola
Teder, Meelis
Vennesland, Birger
Vilkriste, Lelde
Wilhelmsson, Erik
Wilkes-Allemann, Jerylee
Bouriaud, Laura


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

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