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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

The sensitivity of current and future forest managers to climate-induced changes in ecological processes

Seidl, Rupert; Aggestam, Filip; Rammer, Werner; Blennow, Kristina; Wolfslehner, Bernhard


Climate vulnerability of managed forest ecosystems is not only determined by ecological processes but also influenced by the adaptive capacity of forest managers. To better understand adaptive behaviour, we conducted a questionnaire study among current and future forest managers (i.e. active managers and forestry students) in Austria. We found widespread belief in climate change (94.7 % of respondents), and no significant difference between current and future managers. Based on intended responses to climate-induced ecosystem changes, we distinguished four groups: highly sensitive managers (27.7 %), those mainly sensitive to changes in growth and regeneration processes (46.7 %), managers primarily sensitive to regeneration changes (11.2 %), and insensitive managers (14.4 %). Experiences and beliefs with regard to disturbance-related tree mortality were found to particularly influence a manager's sensitivity to climate change. Our findings underline the importance of the social dimension of climate change adaptation, and suggest potentially strong adaptive feedbacks between ecosystems and their managers.


Climate change adaptation; Beliefs and experiences; Forest management; Growth change; Disturbance change; Regeneration change

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2016, Volume: 45, number: 4, pages: 430-441

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action
    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


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