Understanding forest resource conflicts in Ireland: A case study approach

Nana O. Bonsu, Áine Ní Dhubháin, Deirdre O'connor

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainable forest management and multi-functionality are the paradigms that underpin forest management at European level. Their emergence has led to an increased expectation among stakeholders as to the goods and services that forests can and should deliver. Stakeholders often have differing and competing interests in this regard which leads to conflicts. There is also an increasing number of policies that place demands on forests. The conflicting interests and objectives of these policies also give rise to conflicts when these policies are being implemented. This paper examines forestry stakeholders' perceptions of forest resource conflicts within two case study areas in Ireland: Newmarket and the Western Peatlands. These study areas were chosen because they represent landscapes with a recent history of extensive afforestation.The theoretical framework used is an adapted natural resource conflict situation framework based on the substantive, procedural and relationship dimensions of a conflict situation. Empirical data were collected using semi-structured one-to-one interviews with representatives of various stakeholder groups within the study areas. Eight major conflict frames within the natural resource conflict situation framework were identified. An analysis of these frames showed that forest-related conflicts inherently follow the substantive, procedural and relationship dimensions of a natural resource conflict situation. The substance of most of the conflicts centred both on the differing views of stakeholders as to the role of forests and on the conflicting demands being placed by overlapping policy areas. The results further highlighted that the procedures used to deliver policies as well as the distrust between stakeholders often exacerbate the conflict. The findings highlight that implementing the concept of multi-functional forestry and its interrelated complexity remains a challenge at landscape level. The paper concludes that a land-use planning approach is required to better integrate forest-related polices to reduce incoherencies and minimise the conflicts between them. Such an approach needs to involve the participation of stakeholders so as to ensure that any conflicts that do arise can be managed effectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2015


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