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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Water, Forests, People: The Swedish Experience in Building Resilient Landscapes

Eriksson, Mats; Samuelson, Lotta; Jagrud, Linnea; Mattsson, Eskil; Celander, Thorsten; Malmer, Anders; Bengtsson, Klas; Johansson, Olof; Schaaf, Nicolai; Svending, Ola; Tengberg, Anna


A growing world population and rapid expansion of cities increase the pressure on basic resources such as water, food and energy. To safeguard the provision of these resources, restoration and sustainable management of landscapes is pivotal, including sustainable forest and water management. Sustainable forest management includes forest conservation, restoration, forestry and agroforestry practices. Interlinkages between forests and water are fundamental to moderate water budgets, stabilize runoff, reduce erosion and improve biodiversity and water quality. Sweden has gained substantial experience in sustainable forest management in the past century. Through significant restoration efforts, a largely depleted Swedish forest has transformed into a well-managed production forest within a century, leading to sustainable economic growth through the provision of forest products. More recently, ecosystem services are also included in management decisions. Such a transformation depends on broad stakeholder dialog, combined with an enabling institutional and policy environment. Based on seminars and workshops with a wide range of key stakeholders managing Sweden's forests and waters, this article draws lessons from the history of forest management in Sweden. These lessons are particularly relevant for countries in the Global South that currently experience similar challenges in forest and landscape management. The authors argue that an integrated landscape approach involving a broad array of sectors and stakeholders is needed to achieve sustainable forest and water management. Sustainable landscape management-integrating water, agriculture and forests-is imperative to achieving resilient socio-economic systems and landscapes.


Sustainable forest management; Integrated landscape approach; Forest institutions; Watershed management; Resilience; Landscape restoration; Swedish forest history

Published in

Environmental Management
2018, Volume: 62, number: 1, pages: 45-57
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Associated SLU-program

    Nature experiences and health

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Management
    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)