Forest owners should consider mixed forests or continuous cover forestry

Increased resilience to storms comes at the expense of private economic return, but forest owners of highly vulnerable land may profit from mixed forests and continuous cover forestry
Photo by Johan Neven via PxHerre

Forest management and the sustainability of forestry is a hot potato in Sweden. One of the most controversial issues is whether the current model, which is focused on clear-cutting and spruce dominance, should be complemented with continuous cover management and mixed forests. What will be most valuable for landowners and society at large? And how is this influenced when climate change and more frequent extreme weather events are added into the equation?

These issues are the focus of a study published in Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. It compares the costs of storms in mixed forest plots to spruce-dominated ones. The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

The study focused on forests in Jönköping County, Southern Sweden. Simulations were based on the state of the forests in 2010 and then tested five different management and storm scenarios for 100 years into the future. As expected, increased resilience to storms came at the expense of private economic return.

The study also criticises how the term “natural insurance value”, related to ecosystem resilience, has been reformulated in economics. By equating this term with the subjective value of risk reduction (which is zero for risk neutral persons), some economists have turned “natural insurance value” far away from the original ecological meaning, the authors conclude.

Read more about the study on Stockholm Resilience Centre website