Global and regional changes are affecting the forest sector in many countries and the sustainable management of forests is a priority agenda in development policies. In the global south, forest plantations are considered a quick-fix to fill in the gap between the dwindling supply of forest products from natural forests and the growing demand for forest products. This has resulted in the expansion of forest plantations in developing countries in the global south. However, our understanding of the determinants of sustainable forest management (SFM) of plantations is incomplete. SFM aims at maximizing the economic, social and environmental values of forests. In the global north, private ownership of forests is on the rise and forest management decisions are largely in the hands of individual forest owners. However, research on the role of personality attributes of forest owners in forest management is limited. This thesis is a step in addressing the aforementioned research gaps. I explored the role of ownership and certification of plantations in SFM in East Africa. In addition, I assessed the role of personal values and personality traits in environmental concern in forest management of non-industrial private forests (NIPF) in Sweden. In Chapter 1, I set the stage for the thesis. The chapter introduces key concepts and theoretical underpinnings of the research, outlines the main research questions and the research methodology of the studies which constitute the core chapters of the thesis.
Chapter 2 sheds light on the relation between private ownership and certification of forest plantations and perceived changes in infrastructure and social services associated with investments by plantations. I was able to confirm the hypothesis that ownership and certification of plantations matter for SFM. In particular, I showed that private, FSC-certified plantations are more likely than a non-certified, state-owned plantation to be associated by households with positive changes in infrastructure and social services. The results offer tentative evidence that private and FSC-certified plantations are statistically correlated with SFM. The findings contribute additional insights to the literature on SFM and land acquisitions by highlighting the role of ownership and certification in influencing the outcomes of different forms of forest management and associated forested land-related investments. In addition, the results provide preliminary evidence regarding the private provision of public goods, in line with recent findings in experimental economics studies.
In Chapter 3, I assessed the correlations between private ownership and certification of forest plantations and experiences of community participation in plantation management. The results show that households nearby private, FSC-certified plantations were more likely to participate in plantation management than households adjacent to a non-certified, state-owned plantation. Based on the findings, I contend that private ownership and certification of plantations can foster community participation in forest management.
Chapter 4 builds on the results in Chapter 3 and goes a step further to assess the specific relationship between forest certification and experiences of community participation in plantation management. I find that households in villages nearby certified plantations were more likely than households nearby non-certified plantations to participate in plantation management. Taken together, the results in Chapters 3 and 4 suggest that forest certification influences community participation in plantation management.
Chapter 5 deals with the role of personal values and personality traits of non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners in influencing their environmental concern in forest management. I confirmed the hypothesis that personal values and personality traits predict environmental concern in forest management of NIPF owners in Sweden. I also showed that personal values trump personality traits in predicting environmental concern. The results add interesting insights to the literature on the environmental concern of individuals. Based on the findings, I contend that both personal values and personality traits need to be considered in assessing environmental motivations in forest management. The finding that personal values are stronger than personality traits in predicting environmental concern suggests that environmental concern is a voluntary behavior and thus is malleable through relevant interventions.
The final chapter provides a synthesis of the core chapters and discusses the broader implications, limitations of the research findings of this thesis and ways forward for future research. Overall, this thesis shows that type of ownership and certification of forest plantations make a difference in SFM. The findings suggest that market-based forest governance mechanisms, such as forest certification and standards of responsible investment, can strengthen top-down approaches of state policy instruments of sustainable forest management. Unlike previous studies, the research in this thesis uses a comparative approach to uncover the role of ownership and certification of plantations in SFM by focusing on forest plantations that fall under different forms of management and certification status. Moreover, the research is based on data collected from a relatively large number of households which increases the representativeness of the findings. In addition, the results suggest personal values and personality traits have a role to play in the environmental concern of NIPF owners.
The debate in the literature on land-acquisitions in general and forest plantations in the global south, in particular, is polarized with proponents hailing land acquisitions as opportunities for development while opponents consider them as a menace for development. There is a need for comparative analysis of land-related investments, such as forest plantations, that have different ownership and certification status. In addition, there is a need to understand the diversity and complexity of factors, such as stages of operation and alternative land use categories, that may affect the outcomes of land-related investments in various sectors. And lastly, the increasing incidence of private ownership of forests and the policy emphasis on environmental values of forests in Europe call for a better conceptual development and measure of environmental concern, personal values and personality traits. Such conceptual developments help to understand the interplay between the personality of private forest owners and environmental concern in forest management.