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Engaging or resisting? How forest–based industry and private forest owners respond to bioenergy policies in Aquitaine (Southwestern France)

Vincent Banos, Philippe Deuffic and Elodie Brahic

Forest Policy and Economics, 2022, vol. 144, issue C

Abstract: Since the mid-2000s, the critical role of biomass for achieving the French renewable energy objectives is viewed as a means to entice private forest owners to be more proactive in sustainable wood harvesting. However, how bioenergy policies are really implemented and lead (or not) to practice changes at the forest management level remains unclear. In this paper, we assume that these sustainable transition pathways depend on power relations, negotiations and trade-offs between policymakers and forest industry in the one hand and between forest industry and forest owners on the other hand. To address this challenge, we develop a comprehensive and meso-micro level approach informed by theoretical insights from the Multi-Level Perspective of system innovation (MLP) and the Social Practice Theory (SPL). Monitoring the implementation process of two bioenergy policies in Aquitaine region (southwestern France), we show that forest industries are recognized as a progressive force in sustainable transition processes despite their underlying propensity to consider bioenergy policies as a new means to optimize their economic interests regarding forest resources. Conversely, even if forest owners often withstand implementing the most intensive forestry models, they may adopt new practices incrementally, proceeding with caution and without completely abandoning their existing practices. Finally, by coupling the MLP and the STP models, we provide a more nuanced picture of both firms’ engagement and forest owners’ resistance in the dynamics of change. One of the main policy implication is that sustainable transition not only challenges the management capacity of reluctant or inexperienced forest owners but also the collective willingness of forest industries to really support transformative changes in wood mobilization processes.

Keywords: Bioenergy policy; Sustainable transition; Practice changes; Forest owners; France (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102843

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