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Report, 2012

Forest degradation, conservation and restoration in Sweden

Bell, David


Forest ecosystems in Sweden are dynamic, and many species rely on natural disturbance regimes. Today, most structurally complex forests have been converted into even-aged stands of predominantly coniferous trees. Attempts to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services have mostly involved silvicultural precautions and forest protection, but habitat restoration is becoming increasingly important. Before ecological restoration is attempted, researchers and conservation managers must try to understand the (1) site-history, (2) current state, and (3) natural variability of the ecosystem to be restored. Traditional approaches often focus on repairing specific habitat conditions, rather than on restoring landscape processes that form and sustain habitats. A potential short-cut in choosing the appropriate scales for restoration would be to restore habitats for so called ‘umbrella species’. Umbrella species require large expanses of functionally intact habitat. Consequently, many other naturally co-occuring species would benefit from their protection. Ecological restoration may also be the only way to relieve extinction debts in remnant habitats. Restoration methods have been developed to: • Mimic natural conditions (disturbance regimes and substrate availability) • Improve connectivity for species dispersal (create migration corridors) • Enlarge habitats • Minimize edge effects by creating buffer zones • Enable species re-introductions • Eradicate exotic species Restoration success, however, is not only measured in terms of species recovery. Stakeholder involvement is also crucial. Ecological restoration is an inherently subjective process, i.e. people decide on what to restore and for what reasons. Restoration managers must therefore consider public opinion before attempting to bring about change. Change, however, is inevitable, whether it is anthropogenic or not, and ecological restoration will influence future trajectories either way. Long-term monitoring and evaluation must therefore become integrated parts of ecological restoration in Sweden and elsewhere.


forest; stream; restoration; conservation

Published in

Introductory research essay (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies)
2012, number: 18
Publisher: Institutionen för vilt, fisk och miljö, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

Authors' information

Bell, David
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

URI (permanent link to this page)