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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Costs and benefits of seven alternatives for riparian forest buffer management

Sonesson, Johan; Ring, Eva; Hogbom, Lars; Lamas, Tomas; Widenfalk, Olof; Mohtashami, Sima; Holmstrom, Hampus


Stand development in riparian forest buffers was simulated for three forest landscapes in Sweden, using data taken from a sample plot inventory along 38 streams. The objectives were: to quantify the effects on wood production and the economy of management alternatives for buffers; and to evaluate the development of important stand structures for buffer functionality. Buffer widths from 0 to 30 m were analyzed with unmanaged or selective logging as alternatives. Leaving unmanaged buffers resulted in the cost being generally proportional to the area of productive forest land covered by buffers in the landscape. The cost for the widest buffer alternative, 30 m, when left unmanaged, was between 4 and 10% of the total net present value of the entire forest landscape. Allowing selective logging to promote broadleaved trees in the buffer reduced the costs to 1-3% of the net present value. Selective logging increased the volume share of broadleaved trees in the buffer, thus enhancing some of its ecological functions. Unmanaged buffers increased the amount of dead wood more than the alternatives with selective logging. Decisions about buffer zone management must consider the trade-off between economic and environmental benefits, as well as the trade-offs between contrasting environmental goals.


Boreal; water; forestry; economy; wood production; protection

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2021, Volume: 36, number: 2-3, pages: 135-143