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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Conservation significance of intact forest landscapes in the Scandinavian Mountains Green Belt

Svensson, Johan; Bubnicki, Jakub W.; Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar; Andersson, Jon; Mikusinski, Grzegorz;

Abstract

Context As forest harvesting remains high, there is a crucial need to assess the remaining large, contiguous and intact forests, regionally, nationally and globally. Objectives Our objective was to analyze the spatial patterns and structural connectivity of intact and primary forests in northern Sweden with focus on the Scandinavian Mountain region; one of the few remaining large European intact forest landscapes. Methods Over 22 million ha with 14.5 million ha boreal and subalpine forest and with data consisting of a 60-70 year retrospective sequence, we analyzed distribution, density and connectivity of forests that have not been clear cut, using moving window and landscape analyzes derived from Circuitscape. Results We revealed a contiguous, connected and semi-connected intact forest landscape forming a distinct Green Belt south to north along the mountain range. Almost 60% of the forestland remains intact, including contiguous clusters 10,000 ha and larger. The connectivity is particularly high in protected areas with primary forests outside contributing substantially to overall connectivity. We found gaps in connectivity in the southern parts, and furthermore low or absent connectivity across the whole inland and coastal areas of northern Sweden. Conclusions Given its ecological values, the Scandinavian Mountains Green Belt is a key entity supporting ecological legacies, boreal biodiversity and ecosystem services, resilience and adaptive capacity, which needs to be safeguarded for the future. On the very large areas outside the mountain region, forestlands are severely fragmented, connectivity values are lost, and forest landscape restoration is needed for conservation and functional green infrastructure.

Keywords

Boreal; Forest connectivity; Green infrastructure; Landscape transformation; Continuity forests; Sweden

Published in

Landscape Ecology

2020, volume: 35, number: 9, pages: 2113-2131
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Bubnicki, Jakub W.
Polish Academy of Sciences
Mid Sweden University
Andersson, Jon
Sweco Environm AB
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01088-4

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/107716