Family forest owners and landscape-scale interactions: A review

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Forested landscapes around the world are owned, governed, and managed by many small owners and collectives. The management decisions that these owners and collectives make aggregate into measurable impacts on forest cover, fragmentation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and on the ecosystem services these forests provide to owners and broader society. Conversely, large scale processes such as climate change, globalization of markets, changes to laws regarding land tenure and access, and labor migration and remittances dramatically affect individual forest owners and the activities they are able to do on their land. Using NVivo 11.0, I coded and analyzed 456 papers describing research in the intersection of private or communal owners, forests, and landscape-scale impacts or influences. This analysis identified several prominent themes. Forested landscapes are increasingly split into smaller managed segments among more owners, in some cases facilitating deforestation. Global-scale processes such as labor migration and globalized forest product systems influence management decisions of family forest owners in most countries, particularly the choice of growing exotic species plantations and converting forests to cash crops. Programs and policies aimed at family and communal forest owners can be better targeted to incentivize these owners to protect and enhance forest benefits for broader society, and to better support owners’ adaptations to climate change, invasive species, biodiversity loss, and population demographics. Forest-based tourism and non-timber forest products are important but undervalued incentives for forest conservation. Given the large proportion of forests owned and managed by smallholders, landscape-scale planning and conservation goals cannot be met without engaging these forest owners.

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2018.10.017

Publication Title

Landscape and Urban Planning