3. Changing Views on Forest Onwership II
"The objective of our land and timber strategy is to manage our extensive assets to bring on the highest economic return to our share owners. We cultivate and harvest trees, develop real estate holdings, explore for oil, gas and minerals and conduct farming operations. We are deeply committed to protecting and enhancing wildlife, watersheds and recreational areas, and we also have programs that make land available (to the public for hunting, fishing) and other recreational activities" (International Paper Annual Reports, as cited in Cubbage et al. 1993).
After more than 100 years of responsible forest management, International Paper made the strategic decision to sell all or most of its U.S. forestlands (identified in the company's 2005 transformation plan) in order to focus on uncoated papers and industrial and consumer packaging. In the first quarter of 2006, IP sold approximately 90 percent of their U.S. forestlands totalling nearly 2.3 million hectares. In March of 2006, some of their most ecologically important lands were sold under partnership agreements to conservation groups. The total sale was 116,000 hectares for $383 million across 10 southern states and Wisconsin. (International Paper 2006)
The relationships between forest tenure structure, forest landowner conduct and tenure performance in terms of forest stewardship were analysed applying Bain's "structure - conduct - performance" model in industrial organization to forest land ownership. Both theory and experience indicate that forest tenure directly affects the conduct of forest landowners. In turn, the conduct of landowners affects the performance of forest tenures in terms of sustainable forest management. Many options are available to nation states with regard to forest tenures and the choices between private and public ownership is very simplistic. The study concluded that "the issues facing Eastern European countries are less about the relative portions of forest land under public and private ownership and more about whether the forest tenures already in place promote the desired social goals in terms of the protection, management and use of forests "(Le Master and Owubah 2000).
Recent changes in forest ownership.
According to the State of World Forests (FAO 2005) forest ownership is in a state of flux in response to policy and legislative changes, reflecting society's preoccupation with balancing efficiency and equity.
Although most forests in the world are in public ownership, the trend towards private sector management has increased, based on a common view that community and public ownership enhances social and environmental benefits; while private ownership improves economic efficiency (FAO 2005). In countries with economies that are in transition, restitution and privatization have increased in the share of private forests. Altogether, the area of privately owned forests has increased by an average of 2.7 million hectares per year in 1990 - 2000 (FAO 2006).
Forest resource ownership changes (FAO 2005, p. 75).