Governing Competing Demands for Forest Resources in Sweden

Sweden is a country that is heavily forested, in fact according to Swedish definition fifty three percent (53%) of the country is covered with productive forest land which equates to approximately 23 million hectares of workable land.  By 1900 Sweden had already emerged as a leader in the international timber market, and since then it has been the forests and the forest industry that has given it the foundation to be a rich and prosperous country. In recent decades, researchers and politicians have talked about the concept of multiple-use forestry; this means a number of functions such as bio-diversity and water quality, as well as cultural and social activities related to forests are being increasingly included in parallel with the traditional function of timber production.

Forests produce both public and private goods and services and to a large extent society has relied on the delivery of these goods and services as a by=product of different forest-related activities.  Due to population and economic growth the supply of these goods and services from forests has diminished considerably all over the world and the pressure on forests is expected to increase even further during the 21st century.  This presents a challenge to land-owners and policy makers, who must make trade-offs between different forest functions both now and in the future.

This shortened article focuses on the three main points discussed in the full version:  to explore multi-functionality of Swedish forests and how it is being affected by competing demands for land use, how the multi-functionality is actually being governed and to suggest methods to manage trade-offs between the different functions.
Forests, as a whole, constitute landscapes of heterogeneous goods with different ecological, economic and social functions and therefore share attributes with other resource systems that make management and governance difficult.

Goods and services can be classified either as private, common pool, club/toll or public.
Private Goods:  Characterised by rivalry, but can exclude actors from consumption.  Club or Toll goods are rare in Sweden due to the institution of the Right of Public Access which allows people to walk freely through the countryside.  Public goods are characterised both by non-rivalry and the difficulties presented by excluding users from a resource.
There are a number of changing factors, both direct and indirect that affect current prerequisites of existing conflicts in Swedish forests.

The competition between wood production and agriculture in Sweden is currently pretty low, although climate change might significantly reduce the possibility of farming in some parts of the country.  Pressure may well be put on Swedish forests if there is an increase in agricultural land use, or the need for more renewable energy.  The Forestry Act of 1993, the EU WFD from 2000 and forest certification schemes are the most important institutional changes.  Other drivers to be considered are urbanisation or technological, economic and other ecological demands.

In the future, it is predicted that there will be an increased demand for the growing and logging of timber, it’s processing into pulp, paper, board and other timber products.  There will be increased competition between traditional market-driven drivers and other indirect factors, due to changing demands on forest land