Joining forces in forestry: a pathway to collaborative management strategies
Plasencia, Extremadura, Spain, 26 - 30th June 2017

Every four years forest practitioners, researchers and decision-makers from all over Spain gather to take stock of advances in forestry and discuss future pathways at the Spanish Forestry Congress. This year, the seventh Congress took place in Plasencia, Extremadura, from 26th to 30th June. The theme echoed current trends towards a bioeconomy, to reflect the role of innovative forest management models and greater awareness of ecosystem services in fostering new opportunities. This paved the way for the direction the forest sector must take in order to capture the challenges of the 21st century: a circular and bio-based economy.

The role of forest owners is key for feeding these economic models. Competitiveness in the market is an essential success factor for the effective mobilisation of goods and services such as wood provision, tourism initiatives and fire prevention. All these phenomena need interventions at the landscape scale to develop resilient responses. Forest owners grouped into new governance entities, could work jointly on the demand and supply of the bioeconomy paradigm, to achieve greater benefits and share potential risks.

Thanks to the VALERIE project, the EFIMED team participated and enriched this discussion, presenting the “Challenges for joint private forest management”. This work synthesises the review of scientific and practitioners’ experience in the field of associations and groups of landowners agreeing on shared management strategies. The literature review extracting the best available knowledge was conducted within the VALERIE project, as well as its implementation through the social innovation process of establishing a new forestry group in the Pyrenees of Navarra (Spain).

Models of joint forest management could, in principle, provide benefits to their members, but also create management challenges, which often preclude their uptake or hinder their consolidation. Some issues (e.g. fiscal, decision and geographic matters) are only partially resolved by existing policy instruments that finance joint forest management models. The large bulk of challenges depend directly on forest owners’ internal dynamics and their organization, negotiation, and conflict resolutions skills, trust, and transparency. The role of public and private advisors on promoting joint groups is, therefore, crucial to reinforce these models, minimising existing group challenges.

The presentation was positively received by the congress audience and generated an interesting discussion on the topic, currently on the agenda of several Spanish regions, as was shown in the round table of forest owners.

More information (in Spanish) can be found here: http://7cfe.congresoforestal.es/sites/default/files/actas/7CFE01-587.pdf