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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

How does forest certification contribute to boreal biodiversity conservation? Standards and outcomes in Sweden and NW Russia

Elbakidze, Marine; Angelstam, Per; Andersson, Kjell; Nordberg, Mats; Pautov, Yurij


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is one of the leading forest certification schemes. While many studies concern political aspects and social outcomes of FSC, little is known about the contribution of certification to biodiversity conservation. In Europe, the Russian Federation and Sweden have the largest areas of FSC-certified forest. We assessed the potential of FSC certification for boreal biodiversity conservation in terms of standard content, and outcomes as habitat area set aside and habitat network functionality. First, we compared the biodiversity conservation indicators at different spatial scales in Swedish and Russian FSC standards. Second, focusing on one large state forest management unit in each country, we compared the areas of formally and voluntarily set aside forests for biodiversity conservation. Third, we evaluated the structural habitat connectivity by applying morphological spatial pattern analysis, and potential functional connectivity by using habitat suitability index modelling for virtual species. The Russian standard included indicators for all spatial scales of biodiversity conservation, from tree and stand to landscape and ecoregions. The Swedish standard focused mainly on stand and tree scales. The area of voluntary set-asides for FSC was similar in Sweden and Russia, while formal protection in the Russian case study was three times higher than in the Swedish one. Swedish set-aside core areas were two orders of magnitude smaller, had much lower structural and potential functional connectivity and were located in a fragmented forestland holding. We conclude that to understand the potential of FSC certification for biodiversity conservation both the standard content, and its implementation on the ground, need to be assessed. We discuss the potential of FSC certification for biodiversity conservation with different levels of ambition. We stress the need for developing rapid assessment tools to evaluate outcomes of FSC for biodiversity conservation on the ground, which could be used by forest managers and FSC-auditors toward adaptive governance and management. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Structural habitat connectivity; Potential functional habitat connectivity; Virtual species; Morphological spatial pattern analysis; Pattern classes; Boreal forest

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2011, volume: 262, number: 11, pages: 1983-1995

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Andersson, Kjell
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Nordberg, Mats
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Products
Pautov, Yurij

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences
Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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