Focal person:
Dr. Attila Lengyel, Advisor, European Confederation of Forest Owners

National committee:
Gyula Holdampf , Deputy Director General, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Department
Dr. Péter Csóka, Director General, State Forest Service
Dr. József Ódor, Vice President Association of Private Forest Owners
Márton Sódor, Head of Division, Ministry of Environment and Water Management, Department of Nature Protection
Béla Varga President, Pro Silva Hungaria
Dr. Attila Lengyel, Advisor, European Confederation of Forest Owners


Need assessment for private forestry in Hungary

The general weakness of private forestry structure in Hungary in terms of financial sources, organisation, knowledge level on forestry management, technologies used was recognised among actors of the forestry sector as one of the most serious obstacle of a sustainable and multifunctional forestry practice in countries in transition. The FAO/IUCN/CEPF joint project aims to contribute to the enhancement of this situation by targeting the private forestry sector (owners and managers) and the State Forest Services. In the wake of the privatisation process in Hungary a small-scale dominated private forestry sector was established. The average size of the private forest property is around 3 ha in Hungary and about 35% of the private forests will be not managed yet (2002). The management of private forests will be done in different forms - jointly in associations or cooperatives or other company forms, resp. by the single owner. An owners¿ association at the country level with regional break down is established and operating. In the 1990s the State Forest Service underwent due to the new forest act from 1996 some remarkable changes but it has still many administrative difficulties with the private forest management and has to adapt itself to the new situation more effectively. A need for a better co-operation between private forest management and the State Forest Service can be recognised clearly. This need includes also a better integration of nature protection aims and work into the forest management and the administration¿s practice as well. Reasonable framework conditions in this respect are still mostly to be established, but a change of view to this is also needed on all sides (State Forest Service, private forest management, nature protection party).

Hungary¿s most probable EU-accession brings new challenges for the landowners, forest managers, the forest and the nature protection administration, as well. This situation strengthens the need for further developments in these aspects for all concerned parties and offers to the same time a good opportunity of better cooperation between the partners.

One of the basic steps towards this targeted development in the structure and information weak private forestry sector is the assessment of the needs, it has. Therefore, to enable the implementation of the FAO/IUCN project is a need-assessment of the private forest owners and private forest management a first step.
FAO offered technical and to certain extent financial support to this activity of the project.

Overall objective

To assess the needs of private forest owners and managers concerning the framework conditions and necessary changes for a better implementation of multifunctional forestry management.

Conclusions and reccomandations

a) Forests without management

The problem of forests without management is the most important issue in private forest sector beyond all questions. It goes together with the organisation level and the efficiency of the private forest owners, therefore this is a more complex issue. Its major reason is the unfavourable land ownership structure caused by policy motivated legislation. In group owned forests, owners face difficulties in keeping contacts to each other and making basic decisions regarding management and everyday business. Therefore, possible solutions should encourage management concentration, and prevent further fragmentation of properties by inheritance. Supporting already operating forest management units in drawing unmanaged forests under management is the key to accelerate self organizing solutions.

State Forest Service should have an outstanding role in the elimination of unmanaged forest area, which is to be realized in two ways:

  • to lessen administration and bureaucracy obligations of private forest management (distinguishing by managed area size)
  • better use of available authority means Both require a new approach and view of the State Forest Service towards private forest owners, managers and the private forestry sector itself.

According to Hungarian tradition of forest policy, among comparable property conditions the state forestry sector and the general state administration should give more support to privet forestry. (taxation, organizational means, incentives system, legislation, etc.)

b) Economic stabilization of private forest management and enhancement of organizational level of private owners

Caused by the way of privatisation the new owners were of low capital and equipment level. To achieve a more stable economic state of operating private forestry requires a foreseeable and reliable subsidy system, which provides both project co financing, and supplementary incomes similarly to the subsidy practice in agriculture.

Subsidy system in forestry should give up present practice, in which a fee has to be paid to the state after the wood harvested, from which subsidies are partly financed, but subsidies can only be applied for, and are subject to the amount in the subsidy budget.

Recognizing the disadvantageous situation and the special status of forestry, the state should provide a taxation system more in line with the specialities of small scale forestry and guarantee for specially designed forestry loans.

The enhancement of organizational level of private forests owners has an outstanding importance in interest representation of the whole private forestry sector. Therefore special means should be allocated to the development of regional and national level owner representatives. Their cooperation with legislative bodies, other sectors¿ representatives and state authorities needs to be raised to a much higher level, and active platform of coordination work should be put in place by national level private forestry organization.

c) State Forest Service

State Forest Service is involved in nearly every major changes in the sector, but its procedures and practice do not follow these changes. Accommodation to the new requirements of private forestry sector should include a more effective administration and more regular data update, which can guarantee continuous cooperation with forest management units, and makes monitoring of processes in the sector possible. It is also necessary to ease the administrative burden of private forest management, and rationalize regulations regarding small scale forestry.

There are new and rising needs for close to nature forest management in the private sector, which is still not supported by the present planning and supervising practice, and the initiatives in this field are limited. This effects negatively the development of practice towards multipurpose private forestry.

State Forest Service should establish the rules and procedure of a more effective and wider information service, which better serves the operation of self organizing powers in the sector. The strong regulation of data protection currently hinders the integration of small scale owners into larger management units. Therefore a compromising solution should be found to overcome this situation.

d) Nature protection

The cooperation between nature protection authorities and the private forestry sector could be innovated in two ways.
First of all, nature protection has to show respect towards private property, and compensate all losses of private owners due to the exclusive restrictions of nature protection. Furthermore an official middle term plan should be published in which future actions of nature protection regarding private forest sector are to be seen.
Secondly, as the recognition of non-economic benefits of forests among private forest owners and managers is increasing, nature protection should provide effective support concerning close to nature forest management in knowledge, organizational framework and supportive regulation.

last updated:  Friday, November 11, 2005