Decision-making Support for Forest Ecosystem Services in Europe - Value Assessment, Synergy Effects and Trade-offs

Grant: € 1,68 M
Funder: Sum Forest ERA NET
Duration: 2016-12-01 – 2020-12-31
Project manager: Camilla Widmark

Forests offer a multitude of ecosystem services; thus, the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. Accordingly, forest ecosystem services, are those benefits that people obtain from forest ecosystems, such as timber, food, alternative energy materials, climate mitigation, water quality, biodiversity, recreation, and cultural benefits. This research project – POLYFORES – focus on the synergies of using forest residuals for example for bioenergy and climate mitigation, but also the trade-offs between different uses of the forest, for example timber production and recreation. Recognizing the multiple dimensions of ES values is key for capturing the diversity of societal demands focused on forest ecosystem services. In recent years, multiple authors have raised claims towards integrating the non-economic values into ecosystem services valuation and indeed the studies combining different value dimensions into a coherent framework are starting to emerge. POLYFORES has been designed based on the observation of a trend towards intensification of forest use in many European countries: On the one side, this trend is fueled by an increasing demand for forest products and services, driven by global population and income growth and an increasing per capita consumption of forest products politically promoted by a shift towards bio-economy. On the other side, an increasing area of forests is protected for biodiversity and recreational values or not managed at all due to the lacking interest of forest owners. This de facto decreases the share of actively managed forest lands. Consequently, meeting growing demand for forest biomass on the remaining area is inevitable leading to important decisions involving synergies and trade-offs among forest ecosystem services.

POLYFORES aims at first to map ecological impacts between different forest ecosystem services at both temporal and spatial scales. Second, the aim is to provide a holistic approach to value assessment to consider different valuation taking into account multiple-levels of decisions-making. Third, and last, the aim of POLYFORES is to support decision-making processes of forest ecosystem services at different levels (like Pan-European, EU, national and sub-national). The project is organized into six work packages that in different combinations of ecologic, economic and political science models studies forest ecosystem services, hence combining natural and social sciences disciplines. The project is also focus on contributing to the policy science and practice interface.

The work-packages are, in summary:
  • WP 1 - Scientific and administration of the project, including scientific coordination of the other five work-packages.
  • WP 2 - Assessment of ecological impacts including developing simulations models to assess conflicts and synergies of forest ecosystem services as well as provide ecological decision-making support.
  • WP 3 - Assessment of economic and non-economic values of forest ecosystem services, considering trade-offs and synergies between them.
  • WP 4 - Policy assessment with the aim of analyzing how policies address forest ecosystem services and how synergies and trade-offs are identified.
  • WP 5 – Investigating how policy objectives and regulatory frameworks operates in practice, linking policy science and landscape ecology.
  • WP 6 – Facilitate coherent and integrated decision-making towards sustainable and multifunctional forest management.

Project consortium includes 8 partners, from 7 countries: Austria, Belarus, Germany, Norway, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and EFINORD is the lead partner and is responsible for coordination and management of the project.