Addressing the challenge of wood mobilisation through a systemic innovation lens: The Irish forest sector innovation system

K. Kilcline*, Á.N. Dhubháin, K. Heanue, C. O'Donoghue, M. Ryan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the face of growing demand for sustainable sources of biomass, the challenge of mobilising non-industrial private forest landowners (NIPF) with varying management objectives, to actively manage their forests and increase the supply of wood biomass, is an area of growing research and policy focus. While innovation and knowledge exchange is increasingly viewed as a means of promoting sustainable wood mobilisation, structural weaknesses in the sector such as deficiencies in the institutional and infrastructural setting or capacity of stakeholders, can negatively influence innovation processes. Addressing these overarching challenges requires a systemic analysis of the barriers to innovation across the forest sector as a whole. This case study of the Irish forest sector develops a comprehensive innovation systems framework, integrating structural and functional streams of innovation systems research. This `coupled structural–functional’ framework is applied to identify a number of interconnected systemic problems that hinder the functioning of the forest sector innovation system and negatively influence the potential for co-innovation and wood mobilisation in the sector. Three sets of key systemic wood mobilisation problems are identified, among which there is negative feedback. These so called `blocking mechanisms' have developed over time as a result of historical patterns of practice, prevailing culture, attitude and regulation and are defined here as (i) weak networks blocking capacity development of new forest owners, (ii) infrastructural problems blocking the reach and effectiveness of knowledge networks, (iii) rigid institutional structures and policy blocking co-innovation. To address these deficiencies in the current forest policy and institutional environment, this study makes a number of policy recommendations to promote co-innovation and tackle the multi-dimensional challenge of wood mobilisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102461
Number of pages16
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

JEL classifications

  • q23 - Renewable Resources and Conservation: Forestry
  • o13 - "Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products"
  • l73 - Forest Products


  • Biomass
  • Blocking
  • Blocking mechanism
  • Blocking mechanisms
  • Capacity
  • Forest policy
  • Forest sectors
  • Forestry
  • Functional-structural analyse
  • Industrial research
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge management
  • Mobilisation
  • Networks
  • New non-industrial private forest owner
  • New non-industrial private forest owners
  • Sectoral innovation system
  • Structural Analysis
  • Structural analysis
  • Systemic problem
  • Wood
  • Wood mobilisation
  • Wood mobilization
  • functional-Structural analysis
  • Blocking mechanism&amp
  • nbsp


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