6.05.00 - Forest ethics

About Unit

Sustainability  or sustainable management and use of forest  resources is the  traditional leading  principle in forestry, developed by forest sciences and practitioners during the course of history. By its very nature it has always been a moral principle. This is even more evident in the  modern versions of sustainability, which have explicitly  brought  the multidimensionality into the concept. For example "the Forest Principles" of UNCED  declared that "forest resources and forest lands shall be managed and used sustainably to fulfill social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations".

Integrating and balancing the new dimensions of sustainable forest management has brought complicated and challenging tasks for forest professions and sciences. Forest ethics hopes to contribute to these issues,  theoretically  learning from and employing  philosophy and other social sciences, and practically seeking  a common moral grounds  for understanding  and improving the dialogues between the parties emphasing  or representing one or more single dimensions of sustainability.  In addition, there  is a  long list of more specific  issues in forestry where moral arguments have been used and are needed in debates and in attempts to find solutions for conflicts.

While the practical and theoretical considerations related to  forest ethics in particular related to the development of professional ethics have been in existence well before its recent emergence as a specific subject among forest sciences,  there are also  needs to define in more specific  terms what are  the scope, contents, specific topics and the roles  of forest ethics among other disciplines and focused research areas related to forests and forestry? Could it provide beneficial contributions in the areas drafted above and to the  burning issues facing world forestry or give  support to more common problems foresters, other professionals, forest owners and forest industries meet in their businesses and professional practices?  Unit 6.05.00 wish to be a forum for forest  and other scientists interested in these kind of condiderations and intellectual challenges.

State of Knowledge

It is evident that that strongest tradition of forest ethics  can be found in North America, largely related on one hand to the deliberations and debates on developing professional  ethics in forestry and on the other hand to the already well established environmental ethics with its many (environmentally oriented) contributions to forests and forestry issues. The state of  discussion and knowledge can be found, for example in two compilations:

Irland, L.C. (Ed.). 1994. Ethics in Forestry.  Singapore. Timber Press, Inc

List, P.C. (ed.) 2002. Environmental ethics and forestry. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.

The roots for this new IUFRO Unit are of more recent origin. An  idea  to develop  worldwide dialogue in forest ethics was presented in a side-event of Johannesburg summit in 2002 and resulted in the first European symposium on forest ethics in Berlin in 2005. The outcomes of these two events are recorded in the following volumes.

Erkkilä, A. & Pelkonen, P. (eds.) 2004. Forest ethics inspired by the  Johannesburg summit 2002. University of Joensuu. Faculty of Forestry. Silva Carelica 46.  

Erkkilä, A., Heinonen, R. E., Oesten, G. Pelkonen, P.& Saastamoinen, O.(eds.). 2005. European forests and beyond, an ethical discourse. University of Joensuu. Faculty of Forestry. Silva Carelica 49: 1-333.

See also recent publications and references