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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Governing Competing Demands for Forest Resources in Sweden

Sandström Camilla, Lindkvist Anna, Öhman Karin, Nordström Eva-Maria


Changing and competing land use, where we make use of a growing share of resources, potentially undermines the capacity of forests to provide multiple functions such as timber, biodiversity, recreation and pasture lands. The governance challenge is thus to manage trade-offs between human needs and, at the same time, maintain the capacities of forests to provide us with these needs. Sweden provides a clear example of this kind of challenge. Traditionally, timber has been the most apparent contribution of the forest to Swedish national interests. However, due to competing land use, the identification of the wider role of forests in terms of multifunctionality has been recognized. Today, a number of functions, such as water quality and biodiversity together with cultural and social activities related to forests, are increasingly included as potential demands on forests in competition with traditional functions such as timber production. The challenge is thus related to trade-offs between different functions. How to balance the relationship and guide trade-offs between different functions of forests is, to a large extent, a matter of policy choice and the design of appropriate governance institutions and pro-active management activities. Based on perceptions among stakeholders on future competing demands and a literature review, the paper explore the multifunctionality of the Swedish forests and how it is affected by competing demands for land use; how multifunctionality is currently governed; and concludes by suggesting promising decision support methods to manage trade-offs between different functions


land use change; multifunctionality multi criteria decision analysis; literature

Published in

2011, Volume: 2, number: 1, pages: 218-242