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Meeting the ecological, social and economic needs of sustainable forest management at a regional scale

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Sustainable forest management (SFM) has a long tradition in Finland, and modern sustainability concepts link economic, ecological and social aspects. The ecological aspect refers to the maintenance of biodiversity and the long-term functionality of forests, while the economic aspects concern continuity of timber supply. Socially sustainable forest management takes multiple use into consideration. These three components of SFM are commonly regarded as competing, or even exclusive, suggesting that there are trade-offs between them. Relationships between components of SFM, however, differ across spatial and temporal scales. Interdisciplinary research is needed to explore the interaction between sustainability components. This study explored the interrelationships between ecological, social and economic sustainability at the regional scale. Regional differences of sustainability components were also studied. Two economic, two social and eight ecological variables were included in the analyses. The study covered 41 regional municipality complexes in central Finland. The results show trade-offs between some ecological components and economic ones. Grouse abundance and numbers of old-growth forest patches decreased when forestry activity increased. There was some support for the idea that socially active communities compete less intensively with ecological components of forests than communities where forestry has a central role.
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Keywords: Ecological sustainability; economic sustainability; factor analyses; social sustainability; sustainable forest management; trade-offs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Biological and Environmental Sciences, 2: Economics and Management, University of Helsinki, Finland 3: Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland 4: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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