European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 134, Issue 6, pp 1027–1041 | Cite as

Characterising forest owners through their objectives, attributes and management strategies

  • Victor BlancoEmail author
  • Calum Brown
  • Mark Rounsevell
Original Paper


Changes in forest land use and management arise from the decisions of individual forest owners. To gain a better understanding of forest owner decision-making and its implications for forest land-use change, we develop a forest owner functional typology based on a meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative information about forest owners and their decision-making strategies across the developed world. From this typology, we develop an index of forest owner sustainability. We find nine broad forest owner functional types: industrial productionist, non-industrial productionist, for-profit recreationist, for-profit multi-objective, non-profit multi-objective, recreationalist, species conservationist, ecosystem conservationist and passive owner. These owner types align along three gradients representing (1) their economic focus, (2) the intensity of their management practices and (3) the type of goods and services they provide (private vs. public). We also find that multi-objective and conservationist owners generally practise the most sustainable forms of forest management and industrial productionists the least sustainable in terms of triple bottom line sustainability. Supracontinental land owner typologies of this kind can be useful in assisting international policy making and in developing resource management programmes. We suggest that future studies should investigate forest owner typologies in the developing world, forest owner information-sharing networks, and the ways in which forest owners learn and adapt to environmental change.


Functional types Land use Sustainability Typology 



We thank Dr. Mats Andersson for his valuable comments during the creation of the typology. The research of VB is currently being supported by the Mistra-SWECIA Programme and the University of Edinburgh. CB and MR would like to acknowledge the contributions of the European Commission Framework 7 VOLANTE project ( We also want to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and assistance in improving this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10342_2015_907_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment, School of GeosciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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