The Estonian forest sector in transition to sustainability? Capturing sustainability with the help of integrated assessment

Detta är en avhandling från Lund University

Sammanfattning: This thesis has two main objectives. The first is to analyse the potential of existing assessment tools and methods to incorporate the different dimensions of sustainability in an assessment. The second is to apply some of these tools in a case study in order to determine how forest sector can better contribute to sustainable development in Estonia. The first aim is addressed in a theoretical section that provides an overview and categorization of the existing tools and methods for assessing sustainability. In the case study a transition analysis of the forest sector’s development over the last 20 years is performed together with a stakeholder analysis to determine the potential for improvements. Furthermore, a scenario analysis using a computer simulation in a life cycle perspective is performed to determine the sustainability impacts of the two sustainable forestry visions defined by Estonian forest stakeholders. The results revealed that even though the majority of tools and methods are non-integrated and thus not suitable for assessing sustainability in its broad sense, they can be combined in order to gain increased coverage of a variety of scales and integration of wider range of domains. Transition analysis revealed that Estonian forest sector has undergone rapid economic development with strong pressure on environment. There has also been a considerable drop in economic profitability, but an increase in sustainability-oriented initiatives. The modelling results revealed that current definition of sustainable forestry leads to a continuous separation of environmental and socio-economic aspects. It can be concluded that the Estonian forest sector faces two main sustainability challenges a) increasing the sustainability in private forests, and b) balancing the duality embedded in the definition of sustainable forestry applied in Estonia. Increasing certification, improving the woodland key habitat contracting system, empowering the non-harvesting private forest owners, identification of the needs and preferences of forest owners, a concretisation of the sustainable forestry definition, and implementation of clear, measurable long-term goals together with periodic assessment of progress toward sustainability are some of the suggestions proposed to increase the sustainability in the forest sector.