Interpretation and implementation of Ecosystem Management in international and national forest policy

M. Dekker, E. Turnhout, B.M.S.D.L. Bauwens, G.M.J. Mohren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Ecosystem Management is a leading approach in forest policy and management. However, the concept lacks a clear definition and this may lead to different interpretations and meanings. Still, some commonalities have been identified in the literature leading not so much to a precise definition but rather to the general observation that EM, in addition to traditional technical¿scientific elements, includes important social and economic considerations. This general description of EM is used to analyse how the concept is interpreted and used in international as well as in national forest policy documents. The analysed international documents show similarities in the ways that EM is used and interpreted, in that all selected documents identify both technical¿scientific and social and economic elements. At a national level the use and interpretation of EM shows differences between countries, especially regarding social and economic elements. It can be concluded that, although at an international level there seems to be a consensus on the meaning of EM, at the national level it is interpreted and implemented differently between countries. Specifically, the national level shows selective implementation of EM with social and economic elements largely lacking. Although the concept of EM can be recognized in the national documents, the way it is interpreted makes clear that traditional and prescriptive technical¿scientific forest policy and management still dominates. Contrary to such a top-down prescriptive approach, facilitation of a bottom-up best-practices approach will have more potential to result in the EM of European forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-557
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • biodiversity
  • sustainability
  • command
  • society
  • future
  • values

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