Conversations with foresters on the drawbacks of intensive forestry and the solutions offered by close-to-nature practices
“A growing movement of foresters are showing that we can manage forests profitably while addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency. Through close-to-nature forestry, their businesses have flourished and provided more decent rural jobs, despite having a lower impact on the environment.
Based on interviews with foresters, this discussion document explores some reasons why intensive forestry is frequently neither fair or sustainable and puts forward a new vision of a diverse and thriving forest-based sector where all actors receive their fair share.
The main conclusions are that:
- Close-to-nature forestry often offers more profit to forest owners than intensive practices.
- Europe's forest health is rapidly deteriorating– largely due to intensive forestry.
- Close-to-nature forestry offers economic multifunctionality.
- Unhelpful past management practices, which stand in the way of a transition to close-to-nature management can be changed by removing improper subsidies and increasing education about alternatives to monocultures.
- In the long run, the forestry industry will need to rethink its practices: in southern Sweden, for example, revenue from timber already fails to keep up with rising costs.
- Despite increased logging, employment in forestry is diminishing.
- Intensive forestry is undermining forests' environmental and social functions.