This study analyses the linkages between private forest owners’ perceptions of forest management, and their affinity for subsidies, in a range of European countries. Society increasingly requires the provision of ecosystem services from forests, but the willingness of forest owners to redirect management goals from wood production to the provision of public goods is crucial for sustaining ecosystem services. EU incentives in the forestry sector are still mainly oriented towards an anthropocentric vision of forest management. Forest owners and managers are diverse, and although many efforts have been made to understand the role of forest subsidies in private forest management, it is still necessary to analyse the different perspectives on forest subsidies with a regional comparative approach. This paper explores European private forest owners’ affinity for subsidies – through survey data at European level—and estimates an ordered probit model to (i) analyse how private forest owners in Europe respond to subsidies in forestry, including regional differences in terms of affinity for subsidies, (ii) characterize the factors that influence these responses and (iii) discuss lessons learned related to forest owners’ attitudes on subsidies and the implications for introducing similar kind of incentives such as payments for ecosystem services. Simulations were conducted to examine the potential effects of changes in property fragmentation or the time allotted to forest activities. Forest owners with an utilitarian view of forest management, bigger forest holdings, full or part-time farmers and forest owners from East Europe are most in favour of forest subsidies. Property fragmentation and absenteeism decreases affinity for subsidies.
- European conservation policy
- Forest management
- Private forest owners
- Social-ecological restoration