Long range (or strategic) planning is an important tool for forest management to deal with the complex and unpredictable future. However, it is the ability to make meaningful predictions about the rapidly changing future that is questioned. What appears to be particularly neglected is the question of the length of time horizons and the limits (if any) to these horizons, despite being considered one of the most critical factors in strategic planning. As the future creation of values lies within individual responsibility, this research empirically explored the limits (if any) of individual foresters¿ time horizons. To draw comparisons between countries with different traditions in forest management planning, data were collected through telephone surveys of forest managers in the state/national forest services of the Netherlands and Germany. In order to minimize other cultural differences, the research in Germany concentrated on the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, which has considerable similarities with the Netherlands, e.g. in topography, forest types and forest functions. The results show that, in practice, 15 years appears to be the most distant horizon that foresters can identify with. This is in sharp contrast to the time horizons spanning decades and even generations that are always said to exist in forestry. The ¿doctrine of the long run¿¿the faith in the capacity of foresters to overcome the barriers of the uncertain future and look ahead and plan for long-range goals¿which in many countries still underlies traditional forest management, can therefore be rejected.
- time perspective