Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Introduction and Methods

Since the early 1990s, many nations around the world, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), have embarked on a process of transformation or transition of their economies from central planning to a more market orientation. This transition is not simply economic but affects also the political and social spheres. These changes are having, and will continue to have, important impacts on virtually all areas of life in these nations. Forestry is not an exception.

Many countries in the region went through varying degrees of nationalization of private property, including forest land, in the years following World War II. Much of the means of production (labor, land and capital) came under state ownership and control in centrally planned economies. However, since the early 1990s a reverse trend is apparent, marked by privatization, a reduction of state influence and a shift towards a market economy and political pluralism.

Privatization as used here encompasses three main processes:

· The selling (or privatization) of former state property (enterprises, real estate) to non-state entities.

· The restitution of nationalized or collectivized private property to their former owners.

· The transfer of state property to private concerns in order to satisfy demands made on the state mainly as compensation for the previous nationalization (expropriation) and collectivization of private property.

Governments in the countries in transition of CEE have often established specialized ministries and/or agencies to implement privatization with the secondary objective of utilizing the income from privatization for investments urgently needed in the general transformation process of the national economy.

The goal of much of the economic liberisation has been to stimulate economic growth and improve standards of living. However, the transition has resulted in some economic hardships, hopefully temporary, including the bankruptcy of certain industries, unemployment, a decrease in production, inflation, currency devaluation, reduced real income (especially in public employment and pension schemes), the development of trade deficits in areas previously self-sufficient, and the growth of the 'black economy'. There are fears that the new economic environment may be increasing the hardship and suffering on the part of a large portion of the population who are therefore looking for short term economic gains. However, in some countries, the economic forecasts suggest improving conditions for most people.


A survey of the status of private forestry and forestry extension in several CEE countries was conducted as a first step to identifying needs, trends and in developing appropriate capacities for forestry extension. Initially, countries were contacted as a result of their participation in the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) Meeting of March, 1995. Later, other countries became interested in participating and provided data. It should be noted that the countries covered in this report were not necessarily chosen to reflect a range of bio-physical or socio-economic conditions and be a 'representative sample'. However it is felt that their experience is of interest to a range of other countries in the area and outside.

A simple questionnaire (see Annex 1) was designed and sent to officials responsible for forestry in the selected countries. The questionnaire contained a request for information on:

· total forest area and percent of forest area;
· forest ownership patterns before the year 1985;
· forest ownership pattern in 1995;
· planned forest ownership pattern (policy statement);
· number of private forest owners per private forest property size classes;
· total area of private forest property per different size classes;
· existence of forestry extension mechanisms;
· types of government support for forestry extension;
· institutional arrangements for forestry extension;
· existence of forest owners' associations or groups;
· types and adequacy of training of forestry extension personnel;
· main problems associated with forestry extension; and
· identification of needs in relation to forestry extension.

Completed questionnaires were received from nine countries (Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). In addition, a number of authors were commissioned to provide more detailed information in the form of country papers. Country papers have been prepared for Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (See Table 1). The reports of the FAO/World Bank Investment Center were also consulted.

Table 1: Basic information sources


Completed questionnaire

by agency/person

Country paper




Armenian Forest State Forest Enterprise, 1995

Forestry Extension in Armenia

Ter-Gazarian. 1996



Jela Bilandzija, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Czech Republic


Ministry of Agriculture, 1995



Gyula Holdampf, Head of Section Ministry of Agriculture Department of Forestry



State Forest Service, 1995

The State of Forestry Extension in Latvia

Marghescu, T. 1996



Forestry Extension in the Republic of Lithuania, Status Report

Marghescu. T. 1995



Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry, Department of Forestry, 1995

The State of Forestry Extension in Poland

Marghescu, T. 1996



Borlea, G.F. 1996

Forestry Extension in Romania

Borlea, G.F. 1996



Hrvol, R. 1996

The Study of the Status of Forestry in Selected Countries with Economies in Transition

Hrvol, R. 1996



Golob, A. Ministry of Forestry Agriculture, Forestry and Food, 1996

Forestry Extension in Slovenia

Golob, A. 1996

This information was analysed and discussed with resource people from the region and was complemented by bibliographic research. In some cases, information for other countries in Europe, notably France and the former Federal Republic of Germany, has been provided for general comparison and reference.

This document is divided into two main sections. Section I provides a comparative overview of the evolution of private forestry and the needs and approaches for forestry extension within selected countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Section II contains the country profiles on forestry extension for seven countries in the region.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page