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Forest policy, continuous tree cover forest and uneven-aged forest management in Sweden’s boreal forest

Axelsson, Robert


Uneven-aged forest management based on selection systems is surrounded by strong feelings in Sweden and debates for and against have been going on for more than 100 years. The shift from selective felling, or high-grading, to sustained-yield forest policy eventually led to the use of clear cutting forest management systems on all boreal site types. The need for a more diverse set of silvicultural systems that emulate natural disturbance regimes has been emphasized in the recent Swedish forest policy debate. There are two aims of this thesis; 1) to estimate the amount of boreal continuous tree cover forest sites, i.e. sites that naturally were dominated by forests with gap phase and cohort dynamic, and the amount of pre-industrial agricultural woodlands, how much of such sites that hold old forest today and how they are managed, 2) To explore local forestry actor’s views on and knowledge about alternatives to the clear cutting silvicultural system. Two study areas, one in the south and one in the north part of the Swedish boreal forest, were examined using multiple methods for estimates of forest conditions and qualitative interviews with local forestry actors. In both study areas about 10 % of the forest landscape consisted of continuous tree cover sites. In addition there were high altitude mountain forests in the northern study area, and anthropogenic wooded grasslands in the southern study area. The present harvesting system was similar on all site types. In the southern study area forestry actors were more positive to uneven-aged forest management systems than in the northern area. Foresters in both study areas blamed selection felling systems for the past unsustainable exploitation of the Swedish forests and were negative to using selection systems as alternatives for sustained yield production. However, they were positive to them as a complement to satisfy social and to some extent ecological values. To encourage the use of selection systems as a complement to the clear cutting system in areas with suitable site conditions and in areas with specific management goals there is a need for more knowledge about the consequences for different dimensions of sustainable forest management. Finally, to implement sustainable forest management a landscape approach is needed. This includes emulation of natural disturbance regimes for biodiversity, management of forests for social use, and improved co-operation among land owners at multiple scales in space and time


continuous cover forestry; forest dynamics; forest management system; forest policy; forest governance; boreal forest; social forestry; biodiversity

Published in

Rapport (SLU, Institutionen för skogens produkter)
2008, number: 7ISBN: 978-91-85911-56-1
Publisher: SLU/Skogens produkter

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Economics and Business
    Forest Science
    Social Sciences

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