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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

The multi-faceted Swedish Heureka forest decision support system: context, functionality, design, and 10 years experiences of its use

Laemas, Tomas; Saengstuvall, Lars; oehman, Karin; Lundstroem, Johanna; arevall, Jonatan; Holmstroem, Hampus; Nilsson, Linus; Nordstroem, Eva-Maria; Wikberg, Per-Erik; Wikstroem, Peder; Eggers, Jeannette


For several decades, computerized forest decision support systems (DSS) have helped managers and decision makers to analyze different management options and supported the search for preferred management alternatives. In Sweden, a country rich in forests and with a long tradition in intensive forest management, such systems have been developed and available since the 1970s. Changes in societal as well as in forest owners' preferences and objectives in the 1990s led to a need for forest DSS handling broader perspectives compared to precedent single-objective timber-oriented systems. In Sweden, this led to the initiation of a research programme in the beginning of the 2000s aiming at developing a versatile and multi-objective forest DSS, resulting in the first version of the Heureka forest DSS released in 2009. The system handles several forest values, such as timber and biofuel production, carbon sequestration, dead wood dynamics, habitat for species, recreation and susceptibility to forest damages (spruce bark beetle, wind-throw and root rot). It contains a suite of software for different problem settings and geographical scales and uses simulation as well as optimization techniques. Three software handle projections of the forest using a common core of growth and yield models for simulating forest dynamics. A fourth software, built for multi-criteria decision analysis and including a web-version, enables also group decision making and participatory planning. For more than 10 years, the Heureka system has been used in teaching, environmental analysis, research and as decision support in practical forestry. For example, several research groups using the system for analyses in different problem areas have so far published more than 80 scientific papers. The system is used for nation-wide forest impact analysis for policy support and all large and many medium-sized forest owners use it for their long-term forest planning, meaning that it directly influences forest management decisions and activities on more than 50% of the Swedish forest area. Besides presenting the present system and its use, we also discuss lessons learned and potential future development.


multi-objective forest planning; forest management planning; ecosystem services; simulation; optimization; multi criteria decision analysis; trade-offs; computer system

Published in

Frontiers in forests and global change
2023, Volume: 6, article number: 1163105