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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2019) 64(2): 25–31
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Professional Paper
A state of licence - the social licence to operate as an opportunity for the forestry sector

David Hall *,1

1 Senior Researcher, The Policy Observatory, AUT University, Auckland. Email:
*Corresponding author.

Abstract: This paper discusses the paradox of social licence faced by the forestry sector today. It explores how the idea of the social licence of operate (SLO) relates to the tradition of social contract theory. This philosophical detour shows that social licence is less novel and more entrenched in our politics than its critics seem to realise. The paper then turns to how social licence is realised through action and procedure, and why it is resurgent in the national conversation. Finally, I argue that social licence need not be seen as an imposition or inconvenience, but rather an opportunity to create substantive community support for efforts to align the forestry sector toward maximising public value.
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