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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

A snapshot of forest buffers near streams, ditches, and lakes on forest land in Sweden – lessons learned

Ring, Eva; Johansson, Fredrik; Von Brömssen, Claudia; Berg kvist, Isabelle


Forest buffers beside surface water can mitigate negative effects of logging. To gain more information on buffer implementation in operational forestry, forest buffers were inventoried during 2018 on 174 harvested and site-prepared compartments traversed by or bordering streams, ditches and lakes in three regions across Sweden 2–4 years after clearcutting. Most of the inventoried stream and ditch reaches were ≤5 m wide. The water reaches were categorized as lakes (n = 16), natural streams (n = 50), modified streams (n = 21) or ditches (n = 87). Forest buffers with 100% shoreline coverage were present along all lake reaches and 55% and 10% of the natural or modified stream and ditch reaches, respectively. Buffers were absent beside 14% of the natural or modified stream reaches and 61% of the ditch reaches. Lake reaches had significantly wider buffers on average than ditch reaches and natural or modified stream reaches. The mean (SE) buffer widths beside lakes, natural or modified stream reaches and ditch reaches across all three regions and shoreline coverage classes were 12 (1.1), 6.6 (0.6) and 1.5 (0.5) m, respectively. The character of the local stream networks (natural or modified streams or ditches) containing each inventoried reach, were assessed using map information and the reaches´ field classifications. This illustrated the difficulty of judging a streams´ character based solely on field inspections of individual reaches on forest land where historic drainage activities have been performed. We recommend that also upstream and downstream conditions should be considered when planning environmental measures to protect surface water bodies.


conifer; forestry; harvest; lake; riparian; stream; watercourse

Published in

Silva Fennica
2022, volume: 56, number: 4, article number: 10676

Authors' information

Ring, Eva
Johansson, Fredrik
Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Berg kvist, Isabelle
Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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