“Being able to use attractive nature areas is essential for the tourism”
How important is it for policy makers, governments, business and wider society to understand the benefits forests can provide us?
Nature-based tourism (NBT) is an important and growing economic sector in Northern and Central Europe and has high potential in the forest-rich countries in Eastern Europe. This sector uses attractive forest and environments for business operations. The importance of this sector in diversifying livelihoods and creating green jobs in rural regions are in Finland well identified in national and regional forest and tourism strategies, but in practical level NBT and use of forests for recreation needs more taylor-made solutions to help sector to develop.
In Finland, forests are a typical environment for outdoor recreation and tourism activities, as they cover 82% of the land area, and most are managed for commercial forestry. About 60% of forests are privately owned. Being able to use attractive nature areas is essential for the NBT business, thus making entrepreneurs highly dependent on support from other stakeholders such as landowners, the public sector and local communities. In Finland the different uses and management goals of state-owned forest negotiated within a participatory planning process, but in private lands management decisions are taken by individual owners. Therefore, new ways and mechanisms to enhance production of landscape and recreation values are needed that also could integrate tourism and commercial forestry needs and interests.
In your opinion which are the paths to improve on forest ecosystem services (FES) and what type of impacts should these have on forest management?
In regions with intensive wood (biomass) production, short rotation cycles, for example below 60–70 years, and large management units are often common practices in forest management. These may negatively affect the quality of the forest landscape and thus decrease the environmental quality of forests for tourism. NBT businesses are built on attractive nature, nature experiences and activities and is highly dependent on the quality of the natural environment. In privately owned forests, however, economic incentives for landowners to support the production of amenity values for public or commercial use are lacking. Therefore, the provision of these values is not adequately taken into account in forest management.
Important criteria for developing new PES models for this sector are voluntariness, transparency, acceptability by key parties, low transaction costs and executability in practice. In order to enhance landscape and recreation values of small-scale forests management methods such as selective harvesting, prolonged rotation cycles, and gap and partial cutting can be used that do not prohibit timber production and harvesting but reduce the income from timber production to some extent.