Ecosystem services and forest management in the Nordic countries

Sammanfattning: The need to integrate a full spectrum of ecosystem services into decision-making has been long acknowledged. Despite the exponentially growing body of literature, trade-offs resulting from management activities are still poorly understood. This thesis focuses on forest ecosystems in the Nordic countries, specifically on the impacts of forest management on provision of several ecosystem services and associated trade-offs. The impacts were studied from two research domains: biophysical and socio-economic, as well as their contribution to the decision support. Existing scientific literature on assessments of several non-market ecosystem services in relation to forest management and the extent of their integration into decision support was systematically reviewed in Paper I. The findings suggest an uneven and limited coverage of services in the reviewed literature. Existing assessments are in their majority confined to a single research domain and focus on a single non-market ecosystem service. The same trends have been revealed in studies on decision support. In the next three papers impacts of forest management on provision of different ecosystem services were investigated. In Paper II a structured expert judgment method (the Delphi technique) was applied to preservation of biodiversity and habitat in the boreal zone. Results suggested that management intensity has a negative effect on the potential to preserve biodiversity and habitat. A wide range of estimates was provided by respondents for functional forms of relationships between preservation of biodiversity and forest characteristics, suggesting little agreement. The findings support the usefulness of the Delphi method as a complementary technique for in depth analysis of ecosystem services provision. A choice experiment approach was applied in Paper III to examine the effect of variation in two forest characteristics (tree species composition and stand height / age) on recreational value within a stand and between stands in Denmark. Results confirmed findings from previous studies – variation presents a desirable feature within a stand. The study also shows that variation between stands has a positive effect on recreational value and in some instances it may outweigh contribution of variation within a stand. Paper IV reports results of a literature synthesis on the potential to provide three ecosystem services (timber, biodiversity conservation and cultural services) for two existing forest management alternatives for oak-dominated forests in Southern Sweden (intensive oak timber production and biodiversity conservation without intervention). It also uses existing studies to draw conclusions for a third hypothetical alternative. We identified several management options which result in complimentary synergetic delivery of the three mentioned ecosystem services.

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