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54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Forest as a Resource. Conflicts in the Northern Sweden Wooded land in the 19th century The forest as a resource played an important role in the structural transformation process which would change Sweden from an agrarian to an industrial economy during the 19th century. This paper will analyze some of the conflicts regarding property rights by focusing on tensions between institutional change, small scale local landowners and forest corporations in Northern Sweden 1862-1906. An aim is to provide a basis for understanding the process of institutional change in general and more specifically how property rights of wooded land develop. The enclosure documents will be examined as source information about tensions between institutions, forest corporations and land in Northern Sweden 1862-1906. The enclosure reform in Sweden, regulated by the enclosure enactment from 1827, has been emphasized as an institutional factor of great importance in the transformation process since it determined and strengthened private property rights over land. Generally the reform is considered a solution to deal the problem of poorly managed forests, with the main argument that strengthened private property rights provided better management. For several reasons however the enclosure reforms created tensions in the local society which may challenge a one-sided positive view on the enclosure reform. Property rights include many dimensions and in comparison to e.g. arable land, property rights of the wooded land was often more complex and less defined. One source of conflict was therefore the uncertainties of ownership when land was to be redistributed as part of the reform. Another source of conflict was the diverging incentives among small scale local landowners as regards their respective benefits from the reform. Some researchers argue that landowners who applied for enclosure were in the forefront and consider them as "entrepreneurs". Others argue however that the enclosure reform was a way for landowners who had mismanaged their forest to benefit from a neighbor's saved forest thorough the redistribution of land. Yet another source of conflict was the industrial exploitation of forests. During the early 19th century forest corporations still acquired raw materials based on monopolized rights of property and for harvesting. Throughout the 19th century it was also common for corporations to purchase forest properties from private landowners, but in 1901 this business became legally prohibited. The issue of regional resource in Northern Sweden is still a today with controversies surrounding mining and river exploration.
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