Transition towards improved regional wood flows by integrating material flux analysis and agent analysis: the case of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Switzerland
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- This paper discusses the integration of material flux analysis (MFA) and agent analysis as the basis for transition towards improved regional wood management in Appenzell Auserrhodena, small Swiss canton located in the Pre-Alps of Switzerland. . It is presented a wood flow analysis for forests, wood processing industries and consumption in this region. The integration of MFA with agent analysis first of all provides a quantitative analysis of the wood flow within the region. This allows identification of the main issues regarding regional wood management. By linking the key agents to the wood flows, it is possible to dermine both the stakeholders impacting on these issues and the areas of conflict or disagreemen. The study shows that the forest is currently significantly underutilized although there are sizeable imports of wood and fuel to this small region. Underutilization has two main causes: first, wood prices are so low that harvesting trees is a money-losing proposition; second, consumer wood demand and the current supply from forest owners are not aligned. Furthermore, cultural values, lifestyle trends and traditions make an alignment of supply and demand difficult. Wood processing industries import about 40% of their wood requirements and supply only about 50% of the regional demand. family and small wood processing industries tend to use regionally produced wood and sell their products within the region whereas industries with more than 10 employees import most of their wood and export their products.
Market mechanisms represent both consumer demand and the competition of foreign products through wood prices (type and quality). They are the strongest structural element affecting forest owners. Low prices for fir, the dominant and native tree species in AR, make it difficult to obtain a positive revenue for timber and wood products. According to interviews and roundtable discussions with seven sawmill owners and statements of a board of six cantonal experts, here is currently a tendency to prefer wood from Scandinavian countries. This is due to the fact that architects and customers are skeptical about the quality of Swiss wood, which suggests that a Swiss wood label might be a good strategy to adopt. Another aspect is the increasing preference for semi-finished goods (or goods for self-assembly). These goods require small sized timber from young trees. Now the conflict for forest owners becomes apparent if they want to be able to supply the regional timber and wood industry: while stout timber from old trees is required for construction and related uses, small sized timber from young trees is needed for producing semi-finished goods. Consensus and strategy building with the relevant stakeholders on the basis of the results obtained from the wood flow analysis and agent analysis is a reasonable next step to take. It is suggested that these steps should be institutionally framed to ensure the implementation of strategies. In this case, this framing could be based on current cooperation structures such as the Appenzeller Holzkette (Appenzell wood chain), which can be considered a typical example of a local initiative among key players to promote product development and distributions and thus has the potential to support the process of improving regional wood flows. (Link to the cooperation "Appenzeller Holzkette": sustainable forest and wood management, network between economic sectors, knowledge transfer, tradition and endogenous resources --> probably good practice example).
- Journal / Publisher / Institution
- Ecological Economics
- Reference to the original publication
Transition towards improved regional wood flows by integrating material flux analysis and agent analysis: the case of Appenzell Ausser-rhoden, Switzerland