Forests in a bioeconomy : green future or greenwash?

University essay from SLU/Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

Abstract: Bioeconomy is an emerging concept that is gaining momentum both in science and policy. More specifically, forests are recognised as a significant contributor to any development of a bioeconomy as a source of renewable biomass. Sweden is a country that is well positioned to transition to a bioeconomy as it is both dominated by forests and has already embraced renewable energy as an increasing alternative to fossil-based energy. Sweden also has a tradition of forest policy that has historically emphasised production. The aim of this study is to investigate the forest sector’s perceptions of the bioeconomy concept and see whether the concept is bringing the diverse range of forest actors together as a bridging concept or alternatively is being used to either promote individual agendas as a boundary object or even cause a divide within the forest sector. To measure these perceptions, twelve forest sector representatives were interviewed, including ENGOs, forest industry and forest owners. The results of this study show that the bioeconomy concept is broadly accepted, supporting the notion that bioeconomy is a natural extension of the Swedish forestry model. The results also showed that there is great potential for bioeconomy to act as a bridging concept within the Swedish forest sector. However, this hypothesis did not have unanimous support, as some actors did not recognise any need to change their behaviour, instead using the concept simply to promote their own opinions. Despite this difference, there was a general agreement that bioeconomy represented a positive development for society, with a transition from fossil fuels to biomass being a way forward towards a greener future.

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