Conservation measures in Swedish forests : the debate, implementation and outcomes

Sammanfattning: In Sweden, a multi-scaled model for conservation of biodiversity in forests has been developed since the early 1990s. This model can be divided conceptually into three different levels; (i) retention forestry in the production forests; (ii) voluntary forest set-asides; and (iii) formally protected forests. This thesis explores the debate, implementation and outcomes in the forest of these conservation measures. From being absent from public debate, forestry became heavily criticised during the early 1970s due to aerial spraying of herbicides to control deciduous trees on clear-cuts. The criticism of forestry and increased awareness of the problems concerned with forestry from a conservation perspective put strong pressure on the forestry sector. As a result, Swedish forestry and conservation policy was changed fundamentally during the 1990s and many new conservation measures were implemented. I have identified a number of driving forces behind this development which include the compilation of Red Lists, demands from foreign customers and forest certification. I present, in a paper from 1997, management options which mimic natural forest disturbance regimes better than traditional forestry and I reflect on the implementation of these ideas. One important outcome of the new ideas during the 1990s is the practical application of retention forestry in Sweden. My results clearly show that young forests have become structurally richer since the introduction of the retention approach. The number of retention trees and amount of dead wood in young stands increased between 1997 and 2007. I also compared the area extent, structural diversity of importance to biodiversity and stand characteristics between voluntary set-asides, formally state-protected nature reserves and managed production forests. My analysis shows that voluntary set-asides are an important complement to traditional reserves in terms of geographical location, size and structural factors important to biodiversity. In conclusion a combination of historical perspective and landscape-level data give us the opportunity both to understand complex developments and to develop tools for future successful conservation measures in the Swedish forests.

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