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Ošlejs, J. and Gamborg, Ch. 2007. Sustainable Forestry in Latvia: Building Bridges between Forest Science, Policy and Practice. Baltic Forestry 13 (2): 229 – 236

In this paper we suggest and critically discuss new ways in which the gap between forest science, policy making and practice can be spanned – using the lessons from a just completed four-year Latvian–Danish project as a case for working towards better transfer of scientifically based knowledge into forestry. Forest covers nearly 50% of the Latvian total land area. Forests in Latvia contribute increasingly to the national economy, play an important amenity role and are internationally recognised as harbouring a wide array of European threatened plant and animal species, securing a high level of biodiversity. At the same time, forest legislation is in place and the forest science has been well-established in Latvia. Thus, the resource is in place, is more or less intact and, seemingly well protected in a legal sense, and has been the subject of scientific study. However, there is a severe lack of interaction between forest science and practice and policy making. In the paper, the current situation in the forestry sector and some of the underlying barriers to a successful interface between science, practitioners, decision makers and other forest professionals are characterised. A thematic analysis of the problems encountered during the project phase in relation to bridging the gap between science and policy is carried out. Finally, three main types of suggestion are given as how to improve the dialogue and knowledge link between science and practice and policy making in Latvia.

Key words:environment, forest management, Latvia, policy, science, stakeholders, sustainability