State forest management reforms in three Ex-Soviet Republics – Reforms, reasons and differences

 Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae 2007: 67

 In the context of the radical changes that East European countries have recently gone through, it is of general interest to study what institutional and organisational setups for forest management were selected in the individual countries, and why. The purpose of this thesis is to examine what reforms took place in the State forest management of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Latvia during their first decade of independence and the underlying reasons for these reforms. In order to analyse the underlying reasons for reforms, a number of explanatory models were formulated, mostly based on Public Choice theory and theories on institutional development. By testing these models – Interest Group Struggles,  

Political Necessity, Historical Experience, Path Dependency and Influence of Clientelism and Black Economy, on the forest sector reforms, the applicability of each model on each reform was evaluated. This way the most likely motives for the reforms could be described. The three countries of the study were selected because of observed divergence in forest sector reforms during the first decade of transition. The results show that all the explanatory models can be used to explain the reform process, but on individual reforms, one or two models usually lead to a more likely explanation of the process observed.

Looking on individual models and beginning with Russia, some key reforms in the forest sector were initiated because they were part of the Government’s general reform agenda. Such reforms, when they led to reforms in the forest sector, have here been labelled Political Necessities, implying that the major decisions generated outside of the sector. The main such reforms in Russia, originated from the decision to privatise forest industry but to keep forest State-owned. Most of the other reforms of the period were consequences of this general decision but additional understanding of them was shown to be provided by using the other models of the study.

Interest group struggles, particularly between forest management and forest industry organisations, but also between different levels of Government, were intensive during the studied period, and many of the reforms studied were resulting compromises.