, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 546–554 | Cite as

Biodiversity Conservation in Swedish Forests: Ways Forward for a 30-Year-Old Multi-Scaled Approach

  • Lena Gustafsson
  • Karin Perhans
Review Paper


A multi-scaled model for biodiversity conservation in forests was introduced in Sweden 30 years ago, which makes it a pioneer example of an integrated ecosystem approach. Trees are set aside for biodiversity purposes at multiple scale levels varying from individual trees to areas of thousands of hectares, with landowner responsibility at the lowest level and with increasing state involvement at higher levels. Ecological theory supports the multi-scaled approach, and retention efforts at every harvest occasion stimulate landowners’ interest in conservation. We argue that the model has large advantages but that in a future with intensified forestry and global warming, development based on more progressive thinking is necessary to maintain and increase biodiversity. Suggestions for the future include joint planning for several forest owners, consideration of cost-effectiveness, accepting opportunistic work models, adjusting retention levels to stand and landscape composition, introduction of temporary reserves, creation of “receiver habitats” for species escaping climate change, and protection of young forests.


Conservation planning Cost-effectiveness Key habitat Matrix Reserve Tree retention 



We are grateful to Jerry F. Franklin, Reed Noss, and Jan-Olov Weslien who kindly read and commented on the manuscript. Economic support was given by the Swedish Research Council Formas.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.The Ecology CentreUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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