The “Coming Age of Wood” and Family Forest Owners: An Implications Wheel® Exploration

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The context within which family forest owners operate is constantly changing due to many internal and external factors. Many emerging social, economic, environmental, and technological changes could have profound effects on family forest owners and their land in the future. This paper explores a possible transformative technological change: A “Coming Age of Wood” in which a large number of technological innovations in wood products result in a significant increase in the use of wood-based materials throughout the global economy, substituting for a significant share of non-renewable materials. This high impact development could be transformative for forests and forestry, including small-scale forestry. We used a participatory Futures Research method called the Implications Wheel® to explore the potential direct and indirect implications of a Coming Age of Wood for family forest owners. A total of 195 possible higher-order implications were uncovered, including implications related to major themes of negative ecological effects, positive economic effects, increased conflict between different stakeholders, and negative effects on rural communities. Anticipating some of the possibilities in advance can provide early warnings of the kinds of changes that may be coming, and help enable planners, managers and policy makers to be proactive and build barriers to undesirable change and bridges to facilitate positive change.

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    Personal communication, Dr. James Schreier, management consultant and Director of Training for Joel Barker’s Strategic Exploration Tools.

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    In the analysis of focus group transcripts, group-to-group validation “… means that whenever a topic comes up, it generates a consistent level of energy among a consistent proportion of the participants across nearly all the groups” (Morgan 1997, p. 63).


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Correspondence to David N. Bengston.

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Bengston, D.N., Hujala, T. & Butler, B.J. The “Coming Age of Wood” and Family Forest Owners: An Implications Wheel® Exploration. Small-scale Forestry (2019) doi:10.1007/s11842-019-09423-7

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  • Technological change
  • Disruptive innovation
  • Futures wheel
  • Bioeconomy
  • Futures research