Implementing sustainable forest management (SFM) policy on the ground is not straightforward, and depends on the social-ecological context. To meet the need for place-based stakeholder collaboration towards regionally adapted knowledge production and learning in support of SFM an integrated landscape approach can assist. Hosting most of the circumboreal forest Russia is a key global player. To transition boreal forestry in the Russian Federation from wood mining towards SFM after the collapse of USSR several initiatives were initiated. Our aim is to review the outcomes and consequences of the initiatives employing the international Model Forest concepts’ six principles in Russia. To identify candidates for the study we identified 12 local initiatives using this term, all in Russia's boreal forest biome. However, while seven demonstration forests focused on improving wood production practices, five were long-term stakeholder-driven development processes aimed at SFM, and were approved members of the International Model Forest Network. The five latter were selected for a detailed study to understand their temporal dynamic in the circumboreal Model Forest context, and the extent to which they complied with the six principles of the Model Forest concept as an example of a landscape approach. The sources, amounts and durations of these initiatives’ funding affected both outcomes and consequences on the ground. All five had developed a partnership that formally shared a commitment to SFM. However, not all areas were large enough to represent all dimensions of SFM. Not all Model Forests developed a representative, participative, transparent, and accountable governance structure, which affected the programs of their activities. Finally, knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and networking at multiple levels was variable. In spite of Russia hosting most of the circumboreal forest the Model Forest concept was not sustained in Russia due to ending of foreign project funding, to limited continuity of committed local capacity, and poor support from national-level decision makers. The exception is the Komi Model Forest's transition to a successful consulting company focusing on SFM. To develop regionally adapted approaches to implement SFM policy we stress the importance of sharing experiences from Model Forests as well as other landscape approach concepts among countries and regions with different landscape histories and governance arrangements. To enhance this, we propose a general analytic framework for learning through evaluation about place-based long-term initiatives that integrate evidence-based knowledge about states and trends of sustainability and cross-sector multi-level governance.
- Collaborative learning
- Rural and regional development