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E&S Home > Vol. 14, Iss. 2 > Art. 27 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Empirical Accounting of Adaptation to Environmental Change: Organizational Competencies and Biodiversity in Finnish Forest Management

Eeva Primmer, Finnish Environment Institute
Steven A Wolf, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University

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Abstract

Integration of biodiversity conservation into economic utilization of natural resources has become a central response to the challenges of sustainable development. However, the resources and competencies required to implement such an integrated strategy at the level of the individual, the organization, and the sector are not known. To address this knowledge gap, we have developed an approach to analyze responses of organizations to environmental change and evolving social demands for biodiversity conservation. We analyze the scale, scope, and distribution of the resources and competencies that support the delineation of ecologically significant habitats in intensively managed nonindustrial private forests in Finland, an important international actor in the sector. Based on a national survey of 311 foresters working in public agencies, private firms, and cooperative organizations, we investigate the division of labor in the sector and the patterns of investment in human capital, organizational resources, and information networks that support delineation. We find that communicating frequently with the actors who are directly engaged in field operations is consistently the most productive resource in conserving habitats. Our analysis identifies differences in competencies among different types of organizations, as well as distinct roles for public and private-sector organizations. Beyond identification of differences in conservation behavior and competencies among organizations, our analysis points to substantial uniformity in the sector. We attribute similarities in patterns of investment in conservation resources to historically structured central coordination mechanisms within the sector that include education, training, and broadly shared professional norms. These institutional structures and the resulting uniformity can be potential impediments to radical innovation. Our approach to analyzing adaptation to environmental change highlights the interplay between investments in competencies by actors within a particular technical domain and the evolving external institutional environment.

Key words

Competency; organization; innovation; nonindustrial private forestry; biodiversity conservation; habitat delineation; resource-based view; institutions; Finland;
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087