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Forskningsartikel2020Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

What do scientists and managers know about soil biodiversity? Comparative knowledge mapping for sustainable forest management

Vanermen, Iris; Muys, Bart; Verheyen, Kris; Vanwindekens, Frederic; Bouriaud, Laura; Kardol, Paul; Vranken, Liesbet


Soil biodiversity is crucial for maintaining forest health and safeguarding forest ecosystem services delivery, but it is under increasing human pressure. Forest management puts pressure on soil biodiversity, but has also the potential to support soil biodiversity recovery, depending on which decisions forest managers make. These decisions are highly influenced by managers' perception and understanding. Nevertheless, insights into forest managers' understanding of soils and their biodiversity are largely lacking. This paper addresses this gap by studying private and public forest managers' understanding of soil biodiversity and comparing their level of knowledge with scientists' knowledge. In addition, this paper assesses the effects of context on understanding by comparing between two regions (NW of Flanders, Belgium, and NE of Romania). Specifically, knowledge was elicited using semi-structured interviews based on an integrated framework. The interviews were coded and analyzed using a Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping approach. In total, 24 interviews were conducted after selecting respondents using a purposive sampling design. Our results indicate that forest managers are aware of the crucial role of soil biodiversity and possess practical and context-specific understanding, but lack in-depth knowledge related to ecosystem processes and functions and soil state variables, compared to scientists. In addition, managers did not seem to explicitly consider soil biodiversity in their management decisions, but instead seemed to treat soil more as a black box. While scientists had a more detailed understanding, their understanding also depended on their background as researchers and mostly overlooked practical, site-specific implications. Moreover, we found that local context influenced respondents' understanding, especially related to drivers and pressures that affect soil biodiversity. Hence, communication strategies oriented towards forest managers seem suitable to maximize adoption of adaptive management practices that support soil biodiversity. These strategies should go beyond awareness raising and specifically explain ecosystem processes and functions linked to forest soil biodiversity to improve managers' in-depth understanding, while taking their socio-economic and forestry context into account. Further, policy design should enhance conditions for knowledge exchange and discussion about soil biodiversity. The methodology presented in this study might help such knowledge integration of scientists and forest managers in order to combine in-depth understanding of soil biodiversity and applicability of management practices in specific forest contexts.


Social-ecological system; Soil biodiversity; Sustainable forest management; Fuzzy cognitive mapping; Knowledge comparison; Context dependency

Publicerad i

Forest Policy and Economics
2020, Volym: 119, artikelnummer: 102264
Utgivare: ELSEVIER

    Globala målen

    SDG12 Hållbar konsumtion och produktion
    SDG15 Ekosystem och biologisk mångfald

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