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Environ Manage. 2015 Jul;56(1):127-43. doi: 10.1007/s00267-015-0482-4. Epub 2015 Apr 18.

A conceptual framework for characterizing forest areas with high societal values: experiences from the Pacific Northwest of USA and Central Europe.

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Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources, Biotehnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Vecna pot 83, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia,


In recent decades, much work has been invested to describe forest allocations with high societal values. Yet, few comparative analyses have been conducted on their importance and differences across the regions of the globe. This paper introduces a conceptual framework to characterize forest priority areas defined as areas with identified higher importance of societal values in the context of multi-objective forest management. The six dimensions of the framework (designation objective, prioritization of objectives, governance, permanency, spatial scale, and management regime) characterize the general approach (integrative vs. segregative) to multi-objective forest management and explain the form and role of priority areas for providing forest services. The framework was applied in two case study regions--Pacific Northwest of USA (PNW) and Central Europe (CE). Differences between the regions exist in all dimensions. Late-successional and riparian reserves are specific to the PNW, while protection against natural hazards is specific to CE. In PNW, priority areas are mainly focused on public lands whereas in CE they include public and private lands. Priority areas in PNW are designated in a much larger spatial context and have longer time commitments. In CE, integration of management objectives on priority areas prevails, whereas in PNW priority areas tend to be designated for single objectives. In CE, greater tolerance of timber management within priority areas compared to PNW is allowed. Convergent trends in application of priority areas between the regions indicate mixing of segregation and integration approaches to forest management.

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