Skip to main content

Alternative models and robust decision-making for future forest management

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ALTERFOR (Alternative models and robust decision-making for future forest management)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2017-09-30

European forests are expected to provide a broad range of ecosystem services (ES) serving environment, energy sectors, rural development and society at large. This ES provision capacity is however threatened by the uncertainties of climate change, the complex dynamics of evolving global markets and the pressures for increased use of bioenergy. Traditional forest management models (FMMs) are unlikely to ensure the sustained long-term provisioning of desired ES, let alone their optimised delivery. ALTERFOR’s goal is thus to facilitate the implementation of FMMs better suited to meeting the challenges of the 21st century by:

(1) Identifying and developing FMMs robust in their capacity to deliver ES and overcome projected socio-ecological risks and uncertainties;
(2) Assessing the impact of different FMM combinations in terms of resultant ES baskets on the European and landscape level, and
(3) Facilitating the implementation of desired FMMs and improving cross-national knowledge transfer regarding their benefits, costs, management, and utilization.

Alternative FMMs to meet the future will involve alternative ways of forest management at both stand and landscape level, necessitating broad innovation, from silvicultural techniques over improved ES assessment tools to changes in governance systems.
The future challenges of the European forestry are addressed by a number of prospective scenarios (WP2). Each scenario depicts possible future development over the next 100 years in end-user consumption patterns, climate change impacts, and national and regional policy commitments. With the help of GLOBIOM-G4M modelling framework scenarios take into account demand for forest resources, land use changes, and forest products trade flows globally. This results in national data on prices and demanded volumes of wood commodities over time as a framework for subsequent analyses in each ALTERFOR country.

Work on description of prevailing FMMs and development of alternatives has essentially been confined to the stand level (WP1). As the first step, experts on silviculture and ES developed a common ontology to harmonise the description of the FMMs, describing such facets as intensity and frequency of various silvicultural interventions. The ontology enabled to standardise subsequent FMM descriptions covering: (a) the way the FMMs are applied in the respective regions, including specifics of typical silvicultural measures; (b) relative ranking of FMMs with respect to their capacity to deliver selected ES; and (c) so-called technological landscapes describing the required and available knowledge, technologies, labour and economic factors.

The stand and landscape level effects of forest management alternatives are estimated through assessing the ES with support of advanced forest decision support systems (DSSs). ALTERFOR necessitates wider approaches, going beyond timber production to include climate change, different management strategies and various ES (including biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, water quality, biomass production, cultural services and risks and vulnerabilities). The future development of a forest landscape is very much dependent on how forest owners act as well as what goes on in the world around this landscape, thus models that include these aspects are needed. The work in this phase of ALTERFOR has focused on upgrading the DSSs in the required aspects, so that they adequately tuned for carrying through the upcoming analyses of alternative FMMs (WP3). Besides upgrading DSSs, much effort is also put into acquiring data as precise as possible for making the projections relevant and reliable.

FMMs, on stand as well as on landscape level, are anchored in local and national traditions, regulatory frameworks, and protected by vested interests of different actors. It is important to map this intricate web and to identify the main agents of change (WP4). The work on this part started by laying out the general strategy for ALTERFOR by preparing a methodological blueprint on implementation capacity throughout the whole project. Researchers representing all ALTERFOR case studies were trained in actor analysis in a joint seminar in Göttingen, which enabled smooth work on the report on actors driving FMMs in selected European countries. A scientific paper is currently under preparation based on the findings in this report. The next step is to assemble stakeholders in workshops in each case study (due in the second Reporting Period). Guidelines for how to organize the stakeholder workshops have been detailed by the social science experts of the project and reviewed by the case study teams.

Project pursued active communication and dissemination from the onset and in a variety of ways, producing: project flyer; two project newsletters; public project website, strategic plan for communication measures; 1st update of the dissemination plan; individualised communication materials supporting stakeholder involvement. This material has been translated into case study national languages. The consortium organised a successful kick-off meeting in Southern Sweden, anchoring the overall project objectives, deliberating the core concepts from multidisciplinary perspectives and planning the work with milestones and deliverable
ALTERFOR progresses the scientific knowledge and its practical implementation in two principle areas. First, it advances the FMM modelling at multiple spatial scales. During the first Reporting Period ALTERFOR delivered FMM descriptions of unprecedented detail in a coherent format that allows knowledge transfer between countries. On landscape level the various DSSs are upgraded in such important aspects as the impacts of climate change, spatial explicitness, and forest owner behavior, taking into account forest owner diversity and their actual behavior. The advances on stand and landscape level are based on an extensive and novel work with ES assessments. During the first Reporting Period, ES experts of multiple ES reviewed current approaches to ES modelling, results that went into the stand level FMM descriptions and are now under implementation in the DSSs. Thus, the capacity in Europe to make realistic projections of different forest strategies is much improved.

Second, ALTERFOR promotes the capacity to implement desired FMMs. In doing so, the project adopts a newly developed multi-actor analysis, the Research-Integration-Utilisation (RIU) model. During the reporting period, the case study teams analyzed the actors and their networks, in terms of their interests and power, based on the RIU model. Furthermore, the stakeholder interactions as well as knowledge transfer across participating countries has been enhanced through the innovative TRAVELLAB concept, where field excursions are combined with round table discussion with the local stakeholders representing different interest in terms of FMMs and the associated ES baskets.
Project logo