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Wilhelm May. Photo.

Wilhelm May


Wilhelm May. Photo.

Mapping two centuries of forest governance in Nordic countries : An open access database


  • Alexia Fridén
  • Dalia D'Amato
  • Hanna Ekström
  • Bogomil Iliev
  • Ayonghe Nebasifu
  • Wilhelm May
  • Marianne Thomsen
  • Nils Droste

Summary, in English

Forest ecosystems play a crucial role in the production and protection of economic, social, and environmental values. To understand current challenges and trajectories shaping future strategies within the Nordic forest sector, it is important to map and trace past and present policy and governance developments. The core contribution of this short communication is to present an open-access database that compiles key forest-related public national policies, legislative documents, and private governance initiatives in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway from the 19th century to the present day. To showcase the potential use of the database, we conducted a comparative appraisal of forest governance trends across Nordic countries, outlining differences and shared characteristics. We identify a shift from a highly regulated and rationalized forest management regime in the 19th and early 20th centuries towards more flexible forms of contemporary governance. This transformation comes with the growing importance of sectorial freedom with responsibility principles, but also increasing calls for forest multifunctionality. Demands for recreation, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation have intensified pressures on forest owners to provide public goods. However, the production and processing of marketable forest resources remains important to meet circular bioeconomy strategy goals. We conclude by briefly discussing the implications for strategic multifunctional use and polycentric governance of forests.


  • Department of Political Science
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)

Publishing year





Forest Policy and Economics



Document type

Journal article (comment)




  • Political Science


  • Comparative politics
  • Fenno-Scandinavia
  • Forest governance
  • Historical analysis




  • ISSN: 1389-9341