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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Sweden does not meet agreed national and international forest biodiversity targets: A call for adaptive landscape planning

Angelstam, Per; Manton, Michael; Green, Martin; Jonsson, Bengt-Gunnar; Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar; Mikusinski, Grzegorz; Svensson, Johan; Sabatini, Francesco Maria


Loss of forest naturalness challenges the maintenance of green infrastructure (GI) for biodiversity conservation and delivery of diverse ecosystem services. Using the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi target #11 with its quantitative and qualitative criteria as a normative model, we aim at supporting landscape planning through a pioneering assessment of the extent to which existing amounts and spatial distributions of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) meet these criteria. Highly forested and committed to both intensive wood production and evidence-based conservation targets of 17–20% protected areas, Sweden was chosen as a case study. Specifically, we estimated the amount, regional representation, and functional connectivity of HCVF patches using virtual bird species, validated the results using field surveys of focal bird species, and assessed conservation target fulfilment. Finally, we linked these results to the regional distribution of forest land ownership categories, and stress that these provide different opportunities for landscape planning. Even if 31% of forest land in Sweden is officially protected, voluntarily set-aside, or not used for wood production now and in the future, we show that applying the representation and connectivity criteria of Aichi target #11 reduces this figure to an effective GI of 12%. When disaggregating the five ecoregions the effective GI was 54% for the sub-alpine forest ecoregion, which hosts EU’s last intact forest landscapes, but only 3–8% in the other four ecoregions where wood production is predominant. This results in an increasing need for forest habitat and landscape restoration from north to south. The large regional variation in the opportunity for landscape planning stresses the need for a portfolio of different approaches. We stress the need to secure funding mechanisms for compensating land owners’ investments in GI, and to adapt both the approaches and spatial extents of landscape planning units to land ownership structure.


Biodiversity conservation targets; Green infrastructure; Connectivity; Landscape approach; Landscape planning; Land ownership; Representativeness

Published in

Landscape and Urban Planning
2020, volume: 202, article number: 103838

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Vytautas Magnus University
Manton, Michael
Vytautas Magnus University
Green, Martin
Lund University
Mid Sweden University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Svensson, Johan
Mid Sweden University
Sabatini, Francesco Maria
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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