A key criterion of the EU's Leader approach is the demand for innovative actions to promote rural development. Given that the main objective of the COST Action E51 was the development of knowledge that enables integration of innovation and development policies for a more effective and sustainable development of the forest sector, this chapter makes an assessment of the extent of Leader's support for innovative forest-related projects. To achieve our aim, the lists of Leader+-funded projects in Austria, Finland, Portugal and Scotland were analysed and the forest-related projects identified. A questionnaire was sent to the Local Action Groups that had approved forest-related projects. Questionnaires were completed by either Leader+ beneficiaries or project managers; 47 questionnaires were returned from a total of 108 sent out. In the total of the four countries, only 3.7% of the projects funded by Leader+ were classified as forest-related. There is evidence from the respondents that Leader+ was implemented in a way that supported bottom-up initiatives, a feature that is seen important for integrated rural development. New networks that were created by Leader+ lasted beyond the duration of funding. The risk-friendly and innovation-oriented character of the Leader approach is, however, not strongly valued by the respondents, so our findings provide no evidence of whether Leader+ supported especially novel and innovative types of projects.
|Title of host publication||Innovation in Forestry|
|Subtitle of host publication||Territorial and Value Chain Relationships|
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 23 Feb 2011|