How (Un)Certain Is the Future in Forestry? A Comparative Assessment of Uncertainty in the Forest and Agricultural Sector

M.A. Hoogstra, H. Schanz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Several authors have stated that, because of the long time horizons underlying forestry processes, the forest sector encounters far more uncertainty than is experienced by any other industrial or agricultural production processes, especially regarding the long future. To gain more insight into the extent to which foresters experience uncertainty in their work field, a content analysis has been carried out to reveal how foresters from the United States and (Germanic) Central Europe (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) experience uncertainty. The outcomes were compared with the experiences of uncertainty in a more short-term oriented sector, namely the agricultural sector (also in the United States and in Central Europe). Although the findings must be interpreted carefully, the research reveals that, in contrast to what was expected, foresters experience the future as the most certain time period. Decisionmakers in forestry, as in other business sectors, seem to ignore the uncertainty and pretend that the future is certain. This strategy implies considerable risk and, therefore, for forest management to be effective, there is no other way than actively confronting the futurity dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-327
JournalForest Science
Volume54
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • decision-making
  • values
  • management
  • time

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