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Forest Condition and Management in the Swedish Forest Commons

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Holmgren, Eva; Lidestav, Gun; Kempe, Göran
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1059
Sector: Forestry
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest law
forest policy
productivity--comparative analysis
Abstract: "All over the world, we can witness an awakening interest and recognition of community forest ownership and management as a tool for enhanced local development. Their management are often based on old traditions, close bonds between the local community and the nature resource, long-term thinking and flexibility; all important factors as regards natural resource management. The interest may indicate the acknowledgment of the important role they have played, not only in the past and present, but also their potential future importance for local development and survival both in the South and the North. "In the middle of the 19-th century the Swedish authorities feared for irreversible depletion and degradation of the forests in the northern part of the country. It was the forest companies who showed a rather aggressive interest in the forests. At that time the state, who still was the officially owner of the forestland in the north, was in the process of finalizing the delimitationprocess that had started already in the seventeenths century and involved the fixing of boundaries between the Crown land and other. However, the authorities were anxious that once the forests had been officially parcelled out to the farmers the forests would be exploited by the forest companies. This would challenge the Crowns intentions for a sustainable use of the forests as well as undermine the base for the farmers and the parish' economy not to mention a reduction of state tax incomes. "The remedy selected was the introduction of Forest Commons. Each farmer would get one part of their forest share as individual private land and the other as a share in a jointly owned area, a Forest Common. They are all regulated by the same national laws but in addition, each forest possesses its own by-law. "During the period 1861-1918, 33 different Forest Commons were established in the northern part of Sweden. Today they cover about 541 000 ha of productive forestland held among 25 000 shareholders. "In 1983 a Recommendation from the Swedish Commission on Collectively-Owned Forest Land was published, where it among other things, was concluded that Swedish forest expertise regarded the Swedish Forest Commons to be among the best managed forests in the country taken into consideration their prerequisites. This statement can be interpreted in a number of ways. However, my hypothesis was that the state of these forests differed from the surrounding forests without putting any value into what is best managed. A comparison between the Forest Commons and other forests in the same municipalities was carried out. The forests were for this purpose divided into four groups; Private forests, Company forests, Forest Commons and other types of commons on which a number of forest parameters were compared. Data used originated from the Swedish National Forest Inventory's databases 1998 - 2002."

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