Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 287–304 | Cite as

Identifying and rating cultural sustainability indicators: a case study of wood-based bioenergy systems in eastern Finland

  • Tanja MyllyviitaEmail author
  • Katja Lähtinen
  • Teppo Hujala
  • Leena A. Leskinen
  • Lauri Sikanen
  • Pekka Leskinen


Cultural sustainability has become a much discussed topic in the forestry and bioenergy sectors. However, there are not many indicators available for measuring cultural sustainability. In order to identify indicators for the assessment of the cultural sustainability impacts of wood-based bioenergy in eastern Finland, two-phased expert interviews were conducted. The process was supported by a hybrid approach: A qualitative mapping technique was applied when the indicators were identified, and weights for the indicators were set using a quantitative rating technique. The experts identified 49 indicators of cultural sustainability. Most of the generated indicators were relevant for local uses and highlighted the perceptions of the general public. Furthermore, most of the indicators were relevant from the perspective of raw material acquisition. Applying methods of differing backgrounds enabled advanced problem structuring, which allowed the identification of indicators suitable for assessing cultural sustainability of wood-based bioenergy in Eastern Finland. The quantitative rating technique enabled the determination of the importance of the indicators generated. Nevertheless, it seems that the hybrid approaches have many challenges related to the quantitative measuring of the participants’ perceptions. Cultural sustainability indicators should be identified within a case study, since it seems that most of the cultural sustainability indicators are case specific. The process introduced here offers steps for identifying case-specific cultural sustainability indicators; however, the concept of cultural sustainability cannot be strictly defined.


Cultural sustainability Indicators Sustainability assessment Wood-based bioenergy 



The research questions and data collection procedure were designed as part of the BioSus project, funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The process of identifying cultural sustainability indicators was funded by the Academy of Finland (decision number 127681). We would like to thank the anonymous experts who identified all cultural sustainability indicators listed in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Myllyviita
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katja Lähtinen
    • 2
  • Teppo Hujala
    • 3
  • Leena A. Leskinen
    • 4
  • Lauri Sikanen
    • 4
  • Pekka Leskinen
    • 1
  1. 1.Finnish Environment InstituteJoensuuFinland
  2. 2.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Forest Research InstituteVantaaFinland
  4. 4.University of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland

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