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Risk Perception and Responses Among Private Forest Owners in Sweden

Eriksson, Louise
Small-scale forestry 2014 v.13 no.4 pp. 483-500
climate change, economic factors, environmental law, fires, forest damage, forest management, forests, insurance, interviews, nonindustrial private forests, politics, recreation, risk management, risk perception, storms, Sweden
Forest risk management influences economic, recreation, and ecological values in the forest. To improve the understanding of forest risk management among private forest owners, in-depth interviews were carried out with 20 individual private forest owners in Sweden. Within an environmental stress framework, the forest owners’ overall perception of a range of risks, or threats, that they perceive may damage their forest or harm them as a forest owner was uncovered. Overall, results revealed that the owners generally were not very concerned about forest risks. Nevertheless, natural hazards, such as storms and fires, and societal processes including political decisions concerning for example environmental regulations were mentioned among the most serious threats. Proactive as well as reactive strategies were used to deal with the risks—for example, insurance and forest management strategies. Because climate change is a potentially new risk that may affect forest owners, the owners’ climate change perceptions were explored. The owners emphasised uncertainties and displayed a rather optimistic view of the impacts of climate change on their forests now and in the future. Two dimensions—risk tolerance and perceived control over risks—characterised forest owners’ risk perception and responses. In addition, the susceptibility of the forest, previous risk experience, forest values, and the extent to which the owner is dependent on the forest—for example, economically—were relevant for understanding how risks are evaluated.