Rational versus adaptive forest management planning: exploratory research on the strategic planning practices of Dutch forest management organizations

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Abstract

The long-running debate between the rational and the adaptive school of strategic forest management planning has received considerable attention. There is, however, little empirical evidence of whether and how forest management organizations actually plan strategically. The goal of this paper is to fill this empirical gap by describing the strategic planning practices of 22 Dutch forest management organizations faced with uncertain and unpredictable environments. Two characteristics on which the two planning approaches fundamentally differ form the basis of the description of the planning practices. The first characteristic relates to the way the external world is perceived; certainty is essential in the rational model, whereas uncertainty is central in the adaptive model. The second characteristic relates to the way the internal decision process is organized. Rational planning is much more static and stable, whereas adaptive planning processes are much more continuous, dynamic and natural. Interviews with the organizations studied point to a whole range of planning practices. Rational and adaptive planning are merely two ends of a continuum, and planning practices vary along this continuum. The rational–adaptive planning debate can therefore be considered oversimplified as it focuses only on the two extremes and does not incorporate the whole range of possible practices in between these extremes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-716
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Volume132
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • future orientation
  • environment
  • uncertainty
  • impact

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