Projections of forest resource development are important tools used for impact assessment; they provide both information about potential future resource supply and input into policy processes. Such projections are undertaken on the local, regional, national or larger scale [1,2,3,4]. In projections of future forest resource development, models are commonly used to simulate the possible development of forest resources and other forest ecosystem services over long time frames. Often, a number of different scenarios are compared, in order to gain an idea of possible future forest conditions given different assumptions about, for example, environmental and social drivers, such as growth impacts due to environmental changes, policy changes, or changes in management [5,6,7,8,9]. In recent years, ecosystem services, i.e., the benefits humans obtain from ecosystems, have received considerable attention in the scientific literature and in policy development [10], and efforts have been undertaken to develop indicators in order to map and evaluate different services [11]. Besides wood production, other ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration and recreational value, have been allocated greater importance recently and are increasingly included in impact assessments [6]. However, in the majority of national or regional forest development studies, there are differences between the management guidelines that drive harvesting activities and actual management practices, and these may cause large discrepancies between expected and observed harvest, as well as other ecosystem services, even in short-term projections [12,13]. One reason for this is that, even though forest management objectives are known to vary substantially between owners [14,15], ownership structure is rarely taken into account in projections of forest resource development, and the impact of different ownership types and their inherent management schemes on forest ecosystems has been poorly studied so far [16,17]. Nonetheless, several studies indicate that ownership structure has a substantial impact on forest management. For example, Schaich and Plieninger [16] found that forests owned by small-scale private owners differed significantly from forests owned by the state and municipalities in terms of higher levels of structural diversity, deadwood and carbon storage capacity. The authors attribute this fact to less intensive and more diverse forest management in private forests, driven by the multitude of different objectives and management schemes of small-scale private forest owners. Arano and Munn [18] investigated landowners’ investment in forestry, as a proxy for management intensity, for different owner categories in Mississippi, USA. They found that non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners spent significantly less money on silvicultural activities than industrial owners, implying that NIPF owners’ management intensity is lower. Johnson et al. [19] applied different management strategies in modeling forest structure in the Coast Range of Oregon, USA, for industrial, non-industrial, state and federal forests, and found that forest structure diverged increasingly over time between the different ownership types. Zheng et al. [20] found indications that the proportion of forest with high aboveground biomass was unevenly distributed across broad ownership categories, indicating that ownership behaviors influence carbon storage and other ecosystem services. Rinaldi et al. [17] propose a concept for integrating forest resource assessment and economic modeling of harvesting behavior, using a pan-European forest modeling framework taking into account different attitudes and objectives among forest owners. However, the approach is less suitable for the landscape or regional level, as it is rather coarse and, so far, only based on informed estimates. Further, the focus of the modeling approach is on timber yields, while its ability to quantify and project other forest ecosystem services is very limited.

In Sweden, about 23 million ha, i.e., half of the land area, is covered by productive forest (production capacity > 1 m3/ha/year), and forestry and the forest industry constitute an important part of the Swedish economy, making up 11% of the Swedish total export value and 2.2% of Swedish GDP [21]. Forestry was traditionally production-oriented in Sweden, but in 1994, a new Forestry Act came into force, giving environmental and production goals equal importance, and requiring all forest owners to take some nature consideration in their forest management, such as retaining trees/tree groups and buffer zones [22]. In 1999, the Swedish Parliament adopted several environmental objectives, including “Sustainable Forests” [23], aiming to preserve forest’s biodiversity, as well as cultural and social values. Social values, with a focus on recreation, have received increased attention during the last years [22,24].

In Sweden, about half of the productive forest area belongs to NIPF owners (i.e., individual owners, excluding privately-owned enterprises), with a higher proportion of NIPF owners in southern Sweden compared to northern Sweden. Private-owned enterprises hold 25% of the productive forest area, while the rest belongs to other owners such as the state and the Church [21]. In Sweden, forest owners are responsible for management decisions on their land, and forest legislation gives owners considerable freedom in their choice of forest management. Eggers et al. [25] showed that there is considerable variety in management strategies between NIPF owners, and that the single most important factor influencing choice of management strategy for NIPF owners in Sweden was property size. Despite this difference in management strategies between forest owners, regional and national assessments, such as forest impact analysis and future wood supply projections [2,26], regularly undertaken in Sweden, largely neglect the heterogeneous forest ownership structure and its impact on forest management. On the other hand, knowledge of potential development of forest ecosystem services is important for planning, including municipal planning, given municipalities’ responsibilities for maintaining a good environment for residents, and their commitment to Sweden’s environmental objectives. Municipalities play an important role in working towards these aims, by translating national and regional objectives to local objectives and action plans. Therefore, there is a need for forest scenario development, taking ownership considerations and their impact on management into account.

In this study, we describe a method for and assess the effect of taking into account the diversity of management strategies among different forest owner types. Two scenarios of forest resource development were compared: one where the diverse ownership pattern and resulting diversity in management practices was taken into account as much as feasible, and one simple scenario, only differentiating between protected forest, industrial and non-industrial forest, based on national assessments of forest resources in Sweden [2]. Differences in the modeled outcomes based on these two scenarios were then compared for a number of economic, ecological and social indicators representing important forest ecosystem services, for two municipalities in Sweden. As we encompass the difference in growing conditions and ownership structure between the northern and southern parts of Sweden in our choice of municipalities, we expect our outcomes to be relevant for other regions as well.

Forest Owner

?  Read More  Sustainability  ?In this study, we assessed the effect of a diverse ownership structure with different management strategies within and between owner categories in long-term projections of economic, ecological and social forest sustainability indicators, representing important ecosystem services, for two contrasting Swedish municipalities. This was done by comparing two scenarios: one where the diversity of management strategies was accounted for (Diverse) and one where it was not (Simple). The Diverse scenario Total Engagement: 1