Bosnia and Hercegovina

There are over 250,000 smallholder forest owners in the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina (FBiH). They are the economically and socially the most disadvantaged persons in the country.

Private forests are predominantly used for domestic fuel wood collection and only 20% of all smallholder forest owners are selling either fuel wood or saw logs on the market.

Further, smallholder forest owners in BiH are not organized in local interest associations, and without organizing they cannot reach economies of scale for their forest products from their small allotments.
In Bosnia and Hercegovina, 63% of the land area is covered by forests.

The state-owned area amounts to 1,466,700ha (81.8%) and privately owned amounts to 277,000ha (18.2%). Compared to the relatively intensive management of public forests, private forests have been neglected by both, forest policy decision makers and forest owners.

Private forests in BiH are a valuable source of various goods and services that could be effectively managed by their owners with help of state forest extension and administration.

One of the main problems related to smallholder forest owners is that they are not represented in policy planning and implementation of executive plans

Lack of organization

The lack of organization is a challenge for implementation of private forest management plans (where these plans are adopted, but for most municipalities they are not), practicing sustainable forest management, coherent wood mobilization, and proper representation of forest owners in the political process.

Thus, smallholder forest owners have little structure to follow as well as no place for accessing knowledge, networks, information, and tools for resource sharing to effectively manage their forests.

The first smallholder forestry association

In this context, DFE has been supporting the organizing of smallholder forest owners. This has led to the foundation of the first ever cantonal forest association in the Busovaca municipality in FBiH, the Association of Forest Owners, Central Bosnian Canton. There are about 5,000 forest owners in Busovaca. As Busovaca is known for having a lot of forest and a developed forest industry it is a good starting point to organize forest owners and establish some best practices for private forest owner associations.

We work directly with forest owners as well as with the local, cantonal, and national authorities in the forestry sector and other related sectors to promote the organizing of smallholder forest owners for improved forest management on private land. In this way, the advocacy effort will be targeting all private forest owners in the country.