Conservation significance of intact forest landscapes in the Scandinavian Mountains Green BeltSvensson, Johan; Bubnicki, Jakub W.; Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar; Andersson, Jon; Mikusinski, Grzegorz;
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.
Boreal; Forest connectivity; Green infrastructure; Landscape transformation; Continuity forests; Sweden
Published inLandscape Ecology 2020, volume: 35, number: 9, pages: 2113-2131
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SDG15 Life on land
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