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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Spared, shared and lost-routes for maintaining the Scandinavian Mountain foothill intact forest landscapes

Svensson, Johan; Bubnicki, Jakub W.; Angelstam, Per; Mikusinski, Grzegorz; Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar


Intact forest landscapes harbor significant biodiversity values and pools of ecosystem services essential for conservation, land use and rural development. Threatened by fragmentation and loss by transitions to industrial clear-cut forestry, those landscapes are of pivotal interest for protection that secures their intact character. With wall-to-wall land-cover data, we explored opportunities for maintaining intact forest landscapes through comprehensive spatial planning across a 2.5 million hectares boreal to sub-alpine forest region along the eastern slopes of the Scandinavian Mountain range. We analyzed forest and woodland types that are protected, need protection or potentially can be subject to continued forest management. We established that the fraction of already clear-cut forest is very small and that the forest landscape of the Scandinavian Mountain foothills contains a high proportion of protected high conservation value forests, covering almost 2 million ha, and that over 500,000 ha (27%) remains unprotected and may be subject to future protection or continued adapted forest management. We found evident north to south differences with respect to forest landscape configuration, distribution of unprotected forests and land ownership. With a focus on non-industrial private landowners, we conclude that sustainable land-use requires integrative, multi-functional approaches that rely on further protection, forest and forest landscape restoration and a much larger share of continuous cover forestry than presently. Our results provide input into ongoing policy implementation and green infrastructure planning in the context of securing intact forest values and integrative opportunities for rural livelihood and regional development based on multiple value chains.


Biodiversity; Green infrastructure; Multiple use; Scandinavian Mountains Green Belt; Rural development

Published in

Regional Environmental Change
2022, Volume: 22, number: 1, article number: 31Publisher: SPRINGER HEIDELBERG