SW-6 :: Sustainable forestry

Developing management strategies to ensure a sustainable forest landscape in the face of increasing societal and environmental pressures is a major challenge. To ensure the sustainability of Swedish forests and forestry, decision-making must be based on a solid scientific understanding of the relationships between climate change, ecosystem functioning, and the biophysical and social consequences of human intervention. There is increasing pressure on forestry to maintain, or even increase, biomass production in the boreal region. This does not necessarily mean other ecosystem services such as biodiversity or recreation will be unduly impacted, or that we will jeopardize long-term sustainability of soils and cause unacceptable deterioration in water quality. But it does mean that we need to use state-of-the-art knowledge to develop improved management-support tools. There is therefore an increasing pressure on the research community to integrate the wealth of biophysical and social science findings to create new knowledge that can strengthen forest governance and policy.
In the Future Forests program five overarching questions have been identified to evaluate the sustainability of forestry in a contemporary and future perspective. These are marked (FF) below. Also, other research topics are covered, marked (SH), which were proposed by stakeholders.
Following the conceptual model of INSPIRATION, specific topics marked “SH” originate in stakeholder interviews and the workshop and those marked “FF” originate in the Future Forests Programme. Those marked “CN” originate in general research goals identified in the Swedish innovation and research bill, evaluations of Swedish research or identified by other concerned research centres.
• How can we combine a sustainable and multifunctional forestry and ensure accessibility to eco-system services (CN)
Why? Managing forests sustainably means increasing their benefits, including timber and bioenergy, to meet society’s needs in a way that conserves and maintains forest ecosystems for multipurpose use. How to meet society’s demands require further research.
Natural Capital
• Is the long-term sustainability of base cations threatened by biomass removal and how does this affect soil and surface water acidification? (FF)
• How is biomass grown and utilized as efficiently as possible from an economical as well as environmental viewpoint and how can forest residues, for example stumps, be used in bioenergy production (in a lifecycle perspective)? (CN)
Why? Forests cover about sixty percent of Sweden. Ample opportunities therefore exist to use its biomass for different purposes. Forests play an important role in tackling climate change. The trees can be processed and used to replace other materials in buildings or replace fossil carbon in fuels. Continuous research is needed to increase knowledge of both positive and negative aspects of different forestry practises and how to increase efficiency of uses of forest resources.
Land Management
• How can landscape approaches be used to improve the sustainability of forests and forestry (FF) and how can forest planning and management be adapted to climate change? (CN) What are the economic aspects of multiple use of forests under the influence of climate change? (CN)
Why? Due to the high pressure on land use today it is important to find solutions for how to utilize land in several different ways, including recreational use and values. It is also necessary to adapt plant choices and management to changed climate conditions. Increased knowledge of how biomass is grown and utilized as efficiently as possible from an economical as well as environmental viewpoint is fundamental.
Net Impact
• How is carbon sequestration in forests soils affected by different forest management strategies? (FF)
• How does forest management affect nutrient dynamics in soils, leakage to surface waters, and eventual export to the Baltic Sea? (FF)
• What is the contribution of forest cover to water quantity and quality, and how do different types of silvicultural systems affect the overall health of surface waters? (FF)
Why? The broad utility of forests for production, recreation, rural development and environment require continuous new knowledge to meet the changing sector and society needs. Forest operations regain an increased focus, i.e. wood flows, logistics and road construction and maintenance. Research on net impacts of e.g. new infrastructures for sustainable forest management and wood fibre for energy purposes is required. New methodologies and technologies in forest management are needed due to climate change adaptation and have to be reflected with the use of software and GIS applications. System analysis for sustainable bioenergy production from forestry resources are also needed (CN)