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The “Coming Age of Wood” and Family Forest Owners: An Implications Wheel® Exploration

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Small-scale Forestry


The context within which family forest owners operate is constantly changing due to many internal and external factors. Many emerging social, economic, environmental, and technological changes could have profound effects on family forest owners and their land in the future. This paper explores a possible transformative technological change: A "Coming Age of Wood" in which a large number of technological innovations in wood products result in a significant increase in the use of woodbased materials throughout the global economy, substituting for a significant share of non-renewable materials. This high impact development could be transformative for forests and forestry, including small-scale forestry. We used a participatory Futures Research method called the Implications Wheel® to explore the potential direct and indirect implications of a Coming Age of Wood for family forest owners. A total of 195 possible higher-order implications were uncovered, including implications related to major themes of negative ecological effects, positive economic effects, increased conflict between different stakeholders, and negative effects on rural communities. Anticipating some of the possibilities in advance can provide early warnings of the kinds of changes that may be coming, and help enable planners, managers and policy makers to be proactive and build barriers to undesirable change and bridges to facilitate positive change.


Technological change; Disruptive innovation; Futures wheel; Bioeconomy; Futures research


Bengston, David N.; Hujala, Teppo; Butler, Brett J. 2020. The "Coming Age of Wood" and Family Forest Owners: An Implications Wheel® Exploration. Small-scale Forestry. 19(2): 145-157.

Last updated on: September 29, 2020