last updated 2017/04/25

3rd International Conference on

New Frontiers of Forest Economics (neFFE):

Governing our Forests:
The Evolving Political Economy of Multiple Values and Multiple Stakeholders

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada June 24–28, 2018

1. Background

After Zurich and Beijing the Conference on New Frontiers of Forest Economics will move on to Vancouver. In British Columbia's vast rural areas forestry remains a major player in economic development. In Metro Vancouver forests are in transition with non-timber forest products and services becoming more important. The forestry challenges of British Columbia are ubiquitous, and we need to develop universal approaches to address these challenges.

Four key challenges to British Columbia’s as well as the world’s forests are transformation from timber to multiple values, balancing forest industry competitiveness with global sustainability, adaptation to climate change, and investments in forest management.

First, British Columbia’s forest management system is still grounded in timber that supports the province’s entire economic superstructure. Other forest values associated with indigenous communities and different stakeholders such as recreation, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration, are taking on increased importance. In response, BC has established a number of community forest agreements, developed policies to enhance access to timber resources for First Nations, and is working on a forest carbon strategy along with a cumulative effects framework as a way to better resolve tradeoffs between different activities on the landbase. To date, some of these initiatives have been more successful than others, where some of the challenges are associated with governance -- what institutional arrangements will best yield the desired outcomes -- and some economic --what new business models or partnerships can provide the funding necessary to sustain both BC’s forests and the communities that rely upon them. The associated challenges to forest economists are to: (i) develop economic models that integrate multiple forest values and incorporate multiple stakeholders’ diverse preference structures and other attributes; and (ii) use success and failure experiences of different jurisdictions to calibrate these models.

Second, BC is grappling with changes in forest industry structure characterized by changes in product composition and mill sizes, concentration of forest industry in terms of ownership and product type, and reduced harvest levels following the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. Similar changes are occurring in other jurisdictions. Forest economists are faced with the questions: What are possible scenarios of forest industry structure and what are their implications? How best to balance regional or national forest sector policies with global sustainability issues, as technology and globalization change the competitive landscape?

Third, similar to other jurisdictions, BC has invested considerably in science and knowledge around the impacts of climate change on its forests, yet the general perception is that adaptation efforts still lag. This raises questions as to what factors limit progress. To what extent are costs an issue (i.e., higher cost of adaptation actions, tradeoffs in terms of timber supply) versus other factors (beliefs, risk aversion on the part of different actors, and lack of trust between different actors). Given changing risks (possible positive/negative changes to growth rate, increased risk from pests, fires, etc.), with a system that is still largely predicated on stability, how best to assess risk of action and inaction? What tools and models can forest economists provide to assist in this regard?

Fourth, investment in forest management is one of the global key issues. Forest economists are still struggling to come up with models that either integrate incentives for investing in forest management (improved productivity, better stewardship) or reconciling forest conservation with other forest management activities (parks versus working landscapes). Similarly, the effectiveness of market-based mechanisms in public goods provision or the role of private actors in providing public/collective goods still need to be addressed.

More than 75% of the world’s forests are publicly owned, and in many countries public ownership is quite diverse -- ownership by federal government, provincial government, local government, and other public and private groups. These public entities may have quite different economic perspectives, and their main objectives of forest management may be social welfare, local employment, economic and ecological stability, poverty reduction, and provision of ecosystem services rather than economic profit maximization. Hence, economic analysis of forests owned by these agencies cannot be based solely on an economic framework used for the analysis of timber production on an industrial scale. The same goes with legislation. Forests are frequently regulated jointly by federal, state and local laws. Markets are shaped by local, regional, national and global demand and supply. Overview and review of forest management is done by provincial and many other administrations, who may share their tasks with the board of the owner's entity. And the budget for financing the many demands by the public and special interest groups comes again from many different private and public bodies.

The local setting of British Columbia is ideally suited for hosting the 3rd neFFE Conference about «Governing our Forests». Forests, as in British Columbia and elsewhere are shaped by a patchwork of ownership, markets, regulation, responsibilities and finance. It is clear that the forests globally are faced with multiple values, diverse interests and competing objectives. The key question is whether forest economists and policy analysts are able to fully understand the intricacies of these complex problems. Such an understanding will be instrumental to decision makers as well as natural resources professionals and stakeholders in creating solutions to meeting these challenges.

The conference aims to enlighten this tight network of management and governance with a focus on economic issues. Going back to research done originally by Ostrom, Tiebout and Warren in 1961,1) the conference focuses on old and new issues like Polycentric Governance, Entangled Political Economy (Richard E. Wagner) or Institutional Diversity. Some of the keynote lectures will trace the influence of Tocqueville on recent scholarly work done by Vincent and Elinor Ostrom and demonstrate the validity of the Bloomington School of Thought to forest management.

1) Ostrom V, Tiebout CM, Warren R (1961) The organization of government in metropolitan areas: a theoretical inquiry. Am Pol Sci Rev 55: 831–842.

2. Goal

The goal of the conference is to continue the work on forest economics for the 21st century that started in 2012 at ETH Zurich. Further information about the first and second conference may be found in Forest Policy and Economics (Volumes 35 [October 2013] and 72 [November 2016]).

3. Objectives

The key objectives of the conference are:

  1. to bring together leading thinkers in forest economics from academia, government, and organizations related to the forest sector to explore thought-provoking perspectives on the interaction between the market square and the public square; and
  2. to provide a unique forum to present and discuss cutting-edge thinking papers that will enrich and provide future directions to the discipline of forest economics.

4. Key Features

The key features of the conference are:

  1. The number of participants will be restricted to 40 only. A maximum of 12 papers will be orally presented and these papers will include 4 papers by invited keynote speakers.
  2. Every oral presentation will be allocated 1.5 hours and will have two discussants. The time allocation will be: 30 minutes for the author for initial presentation; 15 minutes each for two discussants, and 30 minutes for discussion by other participants.
  3. Each participant of the conference will be required to be a discussant for one paper.
  4. Other accepted abstracts will be presented as posters.

5. Call for Abstracts for Oral and Poster Presentations

Call for Abstracts for Oral and Poster Presentations: Forest economists and economists associated with any other stream, forestry and natural resource professionals, and anyone else interested in the subject of the conference are invited to submit their abstracts for oral and poster presentations. We welcome abstracts that address any aspect related to the new frontiers of forest economics. Some examples of these aspects are given in the background section but abstracts need not be limited to these aspects only. The submission of abstracts and papers will work as per details given next:


  1. Abstract details: Please include Title, Name and Affiliation of all Authors, Contact details of the author responsible for correspondence, name of presenting author, and abstract not more than 300 words.
  2. Last Date of Abstract Submission: September 20, 2017
  3. Mode of Submission: Submit abstract as an MS Word file to shashi.kant(at)
  4. Decision about abstracts for oral/poster presentations: The authors who submit their abstracts for oral/poster presentation will be notified by October 10, 2017 about the decision of the organizing committee.
  5. Submission of Full Papers: The authors of the abstracts selected for oral presentation will be required to submit their full papers by February 28, 2018.

6. Role of Discussants

As stated earlier, each participant will be a discussant for one paper. The organizers will send a full paper to every discussant by March 15, 2018, and discussant will send his/her written comments on the paper by May 10, 2018 to the conference organizers. Discussants will orally present their comments right after the presentation of each paper by the author. Each discussant will have 15 minutes to present his/her comments.

7. Preliminary Program

June 24, 2018

 Evening Reception

June 25, 2018

2 keynote speakers, 3 papers

June 26, 2018

2 keynote speakers, 3 papers, and banquet

June 27, 2018

2 papers and conclusion session

June 28 (& 29), 2018

Field trip (one or two days)

8. Registration

Registration will open on December 1, 2017.

9. Symposium Organizing and Scientific Committee

10. Conference Venue

The conference will take place at the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. More information will be provided later on