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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Dead wood availability in managed Swedish forests – Policy outcomes and implications for biodiversity

Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar; Ekstrom, Magnus; Esseen, Per-Anders; Grafstrom, Anton; Stahl, Goran; Westerlund, Bertil


Dead wood is a critical resource for forest biodiversity and widely used as an indicator for sustainable forest management. Based on data from the Swedish National Forest Inventory we provide baseline information and analyze trends in volume and distribution of dead wood in Swedish managed forests during 15 years. The data are based on approximate to 30,000 sample plots inventoried during three periods (1994-1998; 2003-2007 and 2008-2012). The forest policy has since 1994 emphasized the need to increase the amount of dead wood in Swedish forests. The average volume of dead wood in Sweden has increased by 25% (from 6.1 to 7.6 m(3) ha(-1)) since the mid-1990s, but patterns differed among regions and tree species. The volume of conifer dead wood (mainly from Picea abies) has increased in the southern part of the country, but remained stable or decreased in the northern part. Heterogeneity of dead wood types was low in terms of species, diameter and decay classes, potentially negatively impacting on biodiversity. Overall, we found only minor effects of the current forest policy since most of the increase can be attributed to storm events creating a pulse of hard dead wood. Therefore, the implementation of established policy instruments (e.g. legislation and voluntary certification schemes) need to be revisited. In addition to the retention of dead trees during forestry operations, policy makers should consider calling for more large-scale targeted creation of dead trees and management methods with longer rotation cycles. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.


National Forest Inventory; Saproxylic species; Environmental objectives; Natura 2000; Boreal forest; Western Taiga

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2016, Volume: 376, pages: 174-182