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Social Indicators in the Forest Sector in Northern Europe

A Review focusing on Nature-based Recreation and Tourism

image of Social Indicators in the Forest Sector in Northern Europe

Forest related social values such as recreation values are growing in importance in North European countries. Our urbanized societies need social services from forests and other nature areas. One of the key ecosystem services is the recreation environment provided by forests. Possibilities to enhance commercial recreational use of forests has been recognized, particularly among private forest owners, who have new opportunities for new types of forest-related entrepreneurship. This report provides a review of social indicators in forestry, particularly concerning nature-based recreation and tourism in North European countries. The common interest among scientists and other experts was to discuss how to develop social indicators and to monitor changes to social benefits in forestry and forest use. In all countries, there is a challenge to develop monitoring systems to produce inventory data for statistics that are required in a way that provid es comparable social indicators. It is timely to enhance standardization and harmonization of social indicators for monitoring and management of sustainable forestry and forest use, and for sustainable nature-based recreation and tourism.

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Introduction

Sustainable development is now established as a long-term goal for most natural resources related policies. Within the forestry sector, sustainability has been a core principle since the early days of scientific enquiry, although its definition has evolved from a narrow focus on sustained yield to a broader understanding of the diverse benefits forests provide to society. At the first Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE, now branded as “FOREST EUROPE”, which is used in this report), held in Helsinki in 1993, sustainable forest management was defined as “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems” (Resolution H1… 1993). The FOREST EUROPE process involves 45 European countries, and it has a counterpart in the Montréal Process in which countries such as United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are involved (The Montréal Process 2013). The need to establish a global policy for sustainable use and management of forest resources is expressed also by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 2013).

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