New environmental policy instruments to realize forest expansion in Flanders (northern Belgium): A base for smart regulation?

P. Van Gossum, L. Ledene, B.J.M. Arts, R. De Vreese, G. Van Langenhove, K. Verheyen

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18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper evaluates the current instrument mix, designs options for smart regulation and estimates the support base of new instruments for the forest expansion policy in Flanders (northern Belgium). The framework applied is a combination of theories on instrument choice (ICT), policy transfer and legitimacy. The ICT points out that there is a need for new environmental policy instruments (NEPI) oriented to private actors that inform them or create win¿win situations for all involved parties. The need is especially high for farmers, who are key actors. The policy transfer analysis suggested instruments currently in use in the Netherlands, England and Denmark that can fulfill these needs. However, the acceptability ¿ or legitimacy ¿ of the suggested instruments in Flanders is only high for three of these, notably the carbon fund, flexible grant scheme and expert advice (especially by forest groups). This largely fills some smart regulation gaps, like the need for information (expert advice), the involvement of other institutional actors (certifiers, forest groups) and the higher involvement of the private sector (all). However, some gaps, such as flexible land purchase through cooperation with real estate agents or other private agents and opportunities for win¿win outcomes with farmers, remain. Thus, it is not possible to fully optimize the instrument mix in accordance with the smart regulation requirements in Flanders¿ forest expansion policy at this moment. However, as continuity or incremental change is characteristic of most public policy, this does not mean that the suggested changes will be impossible in the near future, especially with the changing character of the rural space
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-946
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • epistemic communities
  • rural-development
  • governance
  • management
  • owners
  • view
  • implementation
  • afforestation
  • challenges
  • government

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