The development of governance innovations for the sustainable provision of forest ecosystem services in Europe: A comparative analysis of four pilot innovation processes

Lasse Loft*, Christian Schleyer, Michael Klingler, Jutta Kister, Felix Zoll, Peter Stegmaier, Ewert J. Aukes, Stefan Sorge, Carsten Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


In the past decades, novel governance and management approaches that support the provision of nonmarketable Forest Ecosystem Services (FES) have emerged throughout Europe. However, it remains unclear under which circumstances such modes of FES governance develop and which sets of socialecological parameters, management formats, and interests enable or constrain these processes. In this
paper, we aim to shed light on the development processes of such governance innovations. We combine approaches from natural resource governance with insights from innovation studies to identify the close interrelations between designing governance approaches and the inherent innovation dynamics in their
development. Empirically, we apply an adapted innovation journey approach to reconstruct the development history of four governance innovations in Europe. We analyse key turning points and crucial influencing factors of the innovation processes, focussing on interests, resources, and values of actors, biophysical and technical conditions of the forest resource systems, institutions and governance arrangements, and features of the innovation management. Our findings show that often individual actors became mainstays of the innovation developments, whereas governmental organisations took up an important role in managing the innovation development process, without being the main change
agents. Further, in cases with a reliable legal environment and existing funding schemes innovation development was fostered effectively. While various natural disturbances negatively impacted upon innovation development, most crisis-related interruptions provided an opportunity for radically changing pathways. We conclude that to cope with these uncertain development dynamics, conditions
for innovation development need to be created that allow for continuous monitoring and adaptation of innovation processes along their development. For future governance innovation development processes, this calls for the setup of protected spaces that allow for stakeholder participation and open deliberation of interests and expectations regarding FES provisioning as preconditions for governance co-design work based on mutual learning and reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101481
JournalEcosystem services
Early online date1 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Forest policy
  • Forest management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Governance
  • Constructive Innovation Assessment (CINA)
  • Innovation journey
  • EU
  • 22/4 OA procedure


Dive into the research topics of 'The development of governance innovations for the sustainable provision of forest ecosystem services in Europe: A comparative analysis of four pilot innovation processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this