Unasylva 184 * Books: The search for comprehensive information on private forestry research

The search for comprehensive information on private forestry research

The role of the private sector in forestry research: recent developments in industrialized countries. 1995. Rome, FAO.

This document comprises three case-studies describing the relationship between the private and public sectors and forestry research in Europe, North America and Australia and New Zealand. In these three groups of countries, forestry and forest products research is conducted by both public and private organizations whose number and influence continue to grow. Overall, the public sector is still the dominant source of investments in forestry research. However, there are significant regional differences. In Europe, private organizations account for 9 percent of forestry research. Of research papers sampled in New Zealand and Australia from 1988 to 1993, 12 percent originated in the private sector. In the United States, on the other hand, at least two-thirds of the total annual investment in forestry and forest products research originates from the private sector.

Private sector forestry research tends to focus on problems of a biological or physical nature. Very little private research is focused on problems involving economics, assessment or forestry programme design.

The main conclusions that can be drawn from the three case-studies are as follows:

  • Forestry research is conducted by numerous public and private sector organizations.
  • The distinction between public and private research activities is becoming increasingly blurred.
  • Consistent and reliable information that describes trends in forestry research is generally lacking, and this is especially so for privately initiated forestry research.
  • Forestry research is dominated by public investments, although these are declining in absolute terms. Private sector investments in forestry research do not appear to be compensating for the declines.
  • Public-private joint ventures in forestry research are an increasingly common means of conducting forestry research.
  • Private investment in forestry research can be expected when the delay in payoff is short, investment risks are low and private entrepreneurs are well organized.

The unique organizational qualities that might enable the private (or public) sector to address a particular forestry issue more effectively are not well understood.

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