Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 01.06.2006

Contract terms influence forest owners’ attitude towards biodiversity conservation

Instruments based on forest owners’ initiative and voluntary action would appear to increase acceptability of forest biodiversity conservation among family forest owners. However, there are marked differences between forest owners regarding their attitudes to conservation. The findings are the result of a research project carried out by the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla.

The study examined attitudes of family forest owners to voluntary instruments of forest biodiversity conservation. Particular attention was paid to terms of the voluntary conservation contract, such as restrictions on use, annual compensations per hectare, duration of contract term and option of termination of the contract, and how these terms affected acceptability of the contract.

The results of the study showed that forest owners are most willing to accept conservation measures that are based on the forest owner’s initiative and voluntary action. The attitude towards conservation of small patches of forest, such as groups of aspen or concentrations of decaying wood, or conservation based on a nature management plan, was also generally positive. A short contract duration was considered preferable to a long one. Similarly, flexible contract terms were preferred, making termination of the contract simple.

The study found that about two thirds of the respondents would have accepted a conservation contract under certain terms. All the forest owners expected a larger compensation for conservation in cases where conservation was initiated by a party other than the forest owner himself. A larger compensation per hectare was also required in cases where the area set aside for protection is clearly larger than small-scale subjects.

Results of the study may be utilised in an endeavour to improve social acceptability and cost-effectiveness of forest biodiversity conservation.

Publication: Horne, P. 2006. Forest Owner's Acceptance of Incentive Based Policy Instruments in Forest Biodiversity Conservation - A Choice Experiment Based Approach. Silva Fennica 40(1): 169-178.

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