Acceptance of sticks, carrots and sermons as policy instruments for directing private forest management

Inge Serbruyns*, Sebastiaan Luyssaert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Nowadays, forest policies often address both public and private forest as a means to meet the increasing demand for forest services in densely populated regions. Policy bodies that attempt to involve privately owned forests in their policy have financial (so-called carrots), regulative (sticks), and informational (sermons) instruments at their disposal. We questioned 405 private forest owners in Flanders, the northern region of Belgium, about their acceptance of these three instruments. An empirical typology that was based on six motivations and supplemented with nine attitudes resulted in four well-defined owner groups: materialistic, satisfied recreational, dissatisfied recreational and profit-seeking owners. Despite the use by the Forest Service of carrots, sticks and sermons for changing the management of privately owned forests, none of our owner groups were committed to changing their management practices. Policy instruments were accepted as long as they did not involve a change in the owner's current management practices. The highest acceptance of policy instruments was found for the best informed and most highly educated owners, i.e., the satisfied and dissatisfied recreational owners. The lowest acceptance was found for the poorly informed and least educated owners, i.e., the profit-seeking owners. Therefore, we expect practice-based education, which includes economic as well as ecological and recreational aspects of forest management, to be a prerequisite for the successful use of carrots, sticks and sermons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-296
Number of pages12
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • Attitudes
  • Belgium
  • Financial instruments
  • Incentives
  • Informational instruments
  • Non-industrial private forest owners
  • Owner characteristics
  • Regulative instruments
  • Subsidies


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