This paper presents an expert evaluation of the subsidy scheme for private forest plantations in Kami City, Kochi Prefecture, Japan, to determine whether the twelve currently available subsidies are designed to realize national biodiversity goals. Subsidies for forestry practices are often criticized for rarely achieving planned outcomes and for environmental threats. Threats to natural balance of private forest have been observed in Kochi Prefecture, suggesting that current forestry subsidies may not be achieving national objectives. The utilization objectives, type of management, requirements, area, intensity, and subsidy rates were contrasted to the three forest multifunctionality objectives of the National Biodiversity Strategy of Japan (NBSJ) 2012–2020, to identify subsidy weaknesses. Focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted in the study site, as well as Bavaria, Germany and Steiermark, Austria, to get a big picture of how experts in these comparable management areas evaluate the Kochi subsidy scheme. Analyses were performed based on a combination of framework analysis and constant comparison analysis. It was found that realization of vertical multifunctionality is hindered due to lack of site-specific management. A six-point proposal for restructuring the subsidy scheme, leaned on results, and the Bavarian subsidy scheme was made. To improve vertical multi-functionality, subsidy schemes should focus on forest owner integration and site-specific, long-term oriented forest works.
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