Published in Scientific Papers. Series "Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and rural development", Vol. 13 ISSUE 4
Written by Maria ARDELEANU, Birgit ELANDS, Rosalie VAN DAM
Forests in Romania are facing significant environmental problems. Due to the large transformations the forestry sector has undergone as a result of the communist period, sustainable forest management is highly relevant. Rural communities, who are dependent on the forests for their daily livelihood, need to be included in discussions regarding sustainable forest management. This paper calls for the need of understanding how these transformations have affected rural people’s attachment to the forests that have been for such a long time taken away from them. Two types of rural communities can be distinguished, those affected by collectivisation of agricultural land and those not. This paper addresses the functional and emotional attachment to the local forests of a former collectivized and of a non-collectivized community. We found that people in both communities are functionally attached to the forest, through a range of social benefits, mostly ‘recreation’ and ‘healthiness’, and economic benefits, especially the use of wood. Attachment was negative thru the economic detriments ‘decrease of wood availability’, ‘high costs of forest management’, ‘wood theft’ and ‘ineffective forest regime’. People in both communities are emotionally attached to the forest through feelings triggered mostly by a sense of kinship with family members. As a final conclusion, in the former collectivized rural areas, people are less attached to the forest compared to people in the non-collectivized rural areas and these differences can be linked to the transformations triggered by the former collectivisation process, but also to the weak regulation of the privatized forests, the limited financial possibilities and access restrictions.