Sustaining Forest Ecosystem Services Through Social Enterprises: Motivations and Challenges from a Case Study in Scotland

Shaohui Zhang*, James S. Paterson, Teppo Hujala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Both the concepts of ecosystem services and social enterprise have gained popularity as means of addressing social and environmental issues in recent years. But while research on ecosystem services has focused on non-governmental organisation and local community-led approaches, the role of social enterprises has received less attention. In Scotland, social enterprises play an important role in delivering social and environmental justice, as well as reaping economic benefits through forest-based practices. These practices are often small-scale and attract participants from local communities. But despite this prominence their motivations and the challenges they face remain largely unexplored. This research attempts to integrate both concepts mainly using field observations and interviews, and to reinforce the findings with the existing literature. It explores the motivations and challenges of social enterprises in sustaining forest ecosystem services through a case study, and discusses their potential within the context of current policy. The research suggests that social enterprises are equipped to tackle a range of social and environmental issues. The enterprise under investigation aims to improve participants’ wellbeing and employability, as well as to provide public education and promote environmental awareness. But these efforts are often hindered by the difficulties of high requirements of the manager and staff members in balancing multiple objectives and most importantly, of managing financial risks. The research concludes that a practical method of assessing cultural ecosystem services as well as the use of innovative funding norms may resolve these challenges, allowing social enterprises to fill the current policy gap and create synergies in the fields of ecosystem services and social enterprise.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall-scale Forestry
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Forest ecosystem services
  • Scotland
  • Social enterprises
  • Thematic analysis


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