Trust within small-scale forest management - a local case study in Southern Sweden

University essay from SLU/Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

Abstract: In the forest sector, non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners commonly interact with numerous stakeholders (e.g. forest managers, timber buyers, harvesting contractors and advisors) for counseling, planning, selling and hiring. Forest management is therefore built and influenced by the relationships between NIPF owners and other stakeholders. In the local context of a Southern Sweden, the Swedish Forest Agency (SFA) and the Southern Forest Owners Association (SÖDRA) are very influential stakeholders in small-scale forest management. Based on qualitative interviews and by means of grounded theory, an analysis of the relationships between NIPF owners and the mentioned organizations was carried out in order to understand the social context at the genesis of forest management decisions. The most significant features found in the field were: i) strong and trustful relationship between NIPF owners and SFA; ii) trustworthy behavior of SÖDRA during hard times; iii) SÖDRA is driven by industrial and not NIPF owners’ best interests; iv) entrepreneurs can be trustworthy actors; and v) centralization of institutions, lack of time of officers and communications barriers influence negatively the relationships NIPF owners-other stakeholders. The results show how public and private customer-related working practices affect NIPF owners’ relation to e.g. advisors, buyers and contractors; and trigger specific perceptions of institutions. Although, deterioration of relationships in a local context might not seem influential to the larger forest industry as SÖDRA, the sum of such small pressures weakens the social domain of the forest sector, thus setting hurdles to participative forestry governance.

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