THE OPINION OF FOREST OWNERS ON EUROPEAN UNION SUBSIDIES INTENDED FOR FOREST MANAGEMENT IN LATVIA
Keywords:EU subsidies for forestry, opinion of forest owners, private forestry
To clarify the opinion of Latvian private forest owners on the use of EU funding in forest management, a survey of forest owners (Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies grant project No. Z7 funding) was conducted in November 2018 by the staff members of the Forest Advisory Service Centre (FASC) which is a branch of the Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre. A total of 153 forest owners have been included in the survey, of whom 107 (70%) forest owners have previously used EU funding support in forest management, and 46 forest owners (30%) who have not used this opportunity. The respondents included in the survey represent forest owners from all regions of Latvia. The survey included general questions describing the profile of the forest owner, such as the size of the owned forest area, for how long the forest has been the owner’s property, knowledge of forest management and the way of receiving information. Regarding the attracting of EU funding, the forest owner's view of the already used EU support and its type was clarified and the overall level of satisfaction, the necessary improvements, and the type of EU support needed for further forest management were identified. The study also includes the results of other similar surveys carried out by other institutions on forest owners’ opinions on EU support for forestry. The results of the survey conducted by FASC confirm that 76% of forest owners who have already used some measures of the EU's financial support at least once are ready to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for the support also in the future. The forest owners, who have not used EU financial support for forest management so far, continue to express sceptical opinions, and only 46% of such respondents would be willing to apply for further EU support funding. When comparing the priority support directions specified by forest owners, it can be concluded that the trends in the need for subsidies are fairly similar, 80% of owners who have previously used the financial EU support, point out that support for young stand and advanced growth thinning is still needed in the future. The same opinion has been expressed by 70% of forest owners who have not previously used the EU funding. In a series of studies, a general trend for priority of most desirable EU subsidies have been identified and it was revealed that 61% of forest owners want to receive support for young stand and advanced growth thinning. Half of this percentage of respondents have pointed out the need for EU subsidies for forest amelioration and road construction (32%), forest establishment (31%), forest regeneration (30%) and for compensations of the protection of natural values and for it management (29%).