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Australia's forests: Contested past, tenure-driven present, uncertain future

Peter J. Kanowski

Forest Policy and Economics, 2017, vol. 77, issue C, 56-68

Abstract: Australia's forests have been characterized by a history of contestation and conflict since British colonization in 1788. This paper adopts a “pathways to sustainability” approach to review Australia's forest governance models, which are strongly tenure-dependent, and generally vary between sub-national jurisdictions; only climate change-related policies, which are in a state of considerable flux, apply to all forests. Consequently, pathways to sustainability are defined largely in terms of the dominant purpose of particular tenures, and are now little-integrated across institutions, landscapes or tenures. Three decades of trialing devolved models of natural resource governance have effectively been abandoned, as have many of the initiatives intended to support development of a more diverse and more integrated ‘forestry’ sector. While the near-term prospects for sustainability of Australia's forests in anything more than the narrowest sense are poor, there are both knowledge-based and historical institutional foundations from which more substantive progress towards sustainability could be realized. This progress will need to be founded on approaches to policy development and implementation that recognize and accommodate the plurality of interests in forests, that enhance coordination and integration between institutions and across landscapes, and that empower and enable the diverse communities of interests in forests.

Keywords: Australia's forests; Forest conflict; Forest governance; Forest politics; Landcare; Natural resource management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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