, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 878–893 | Cite as

Mapping policies for surface water protection zones on forest land in the Nordic–Baltic region: Large differences in prescriptiveness and zone width

  • Eva Ring
  • Johanna Johansson
  • Camilla Sandström
  • Brynhildur Bjarnadóttir
  • Leena Finér
  • Zane Lībiete
  • Elve Lode
  • Inge Stupak
  • Magne Sætersdal


The forest landscape across the Nordic and Baltic regions hosts numerous lakes and watercourses, which must be included in forest management. In this study, national policy designs regarding protection zones for surface waters on forest land were reviewed and compared for the Nordic countries, Estonia and Latvia. The focus was how each country regulates protection zones, whether they are voluntary or mandatory, and the rationale behind adopting a low or high degree of prescriptiveness. Iceland and Denmark had a low degree of policy prescriptiveness, whereas Norway, Estonia and Latvia had a high degree of prescriptiveness. Sweden and Finland relied to a large extent on voluntary commitments. The prescribed zone widths within the region ranged from 1 m to 5 km. The results indicated that land-use distribution, forest ownership structure and historical and political legacies have influenced the varying degrees of prescriptiveness in the region.


Buffer Certification Forestry Guidelines Legislation Riparian 



This study was made possible by the network Centre of Advanced Research on Environmental Services from Nordic Forest Ecosystems (CAR-ES), which was funded by the Nordic Forest Research Co-operation Committee (SNS). Eva Ring, Johanna Johansson and Camilla Sandström gratefully acknowledge funding from the interdisciplinary research programme Future Forests financed by MISTRA (The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research), the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Umeå University. Zane Lībiete acknowledges funding from the Latvian Forest Sector Competence Centre project “Methods and technologies to increase forest value” (L-KC-11-0004). Magne Sætersdal acknowledges funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Food and Agriculture. We would also like to thank the Estonian Environmental Agency, Ministry of Environment and State Forest Management Centre (particularly K. Kohv) for providing valuable information about Estonia.


  1. Ahtiainen, M., and P. Huttunen. 1999. Long-term effects of forestry managements on water quality and loading in brooks. Boreal Environment Research 4: 101–114.Google Scholar
  2. Andersson, E., M. Andersson, Y. Birkne, S. Claesson, O. Forsberg, and G. Lundh. 2013. Target goals for good environmental consideration. A part delivery from Dialog om miljöhänsyn. Swedish Forest Agency, Report 5, Jönköping, Sweden (in Swedish).Google Scholar
  3. Bilby, R.E., and J.T. Heffner. 2016. Factors influencing litter delivery to streams. Forest Ecology and Management 369: 29–37. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.03.031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borchardt, K.D. 2010. The ABC of European Union law. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. doi: 10.2830/13717.Google Scholar
  5. Broadmeadow, S., and T. Nisbet. 2004. The effects of riparian forest management on the freshwater environment: a literature review of best management practice. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 8: 286–305. doi: 10.5194/hess-8-286-2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cashore, B. 1997. Governing forestry: environmental group influence in British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest. Ph.D. Thesis. Canada: University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  7. Eklöf, K., R. Lidskog, and K. Bishop. 2016. Managing Swedish forestry’s impact on mercury in fish: defining the impact and mitigation measures. Ambio 45: 163–174. doi: 10.1007/s13280-015-0752-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Esseen, P.-A., A. Glimskär, and G. Ståhl. 2004. Linear landscape elements in Sweden: estimates from the NILS-data of year 2003. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management and Geomatics, Arbetsrapport 127 (in Swedish).Google Scholar
  9. EEA. 2016. European Environment Agency. Accessed 8 Apr 2016.
  10. FAO. 2015. FAO’s Global Forest Resource Assessment 2015. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  11. Forest and Nature Agency. 2010. Forest and nature in numbers 2010. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Nature Agency. (in Danish).
  12. FSC. 2015. FSC® International Standard, FSC principles and criteria for forest stewardship, FSC-STD-01-001 V5-2 EN. Forest Stewardship Council.Google Scholar
  13. FSC. 2016. FSC Facts & Figures March 1, 2016. Forest Stewardship Council.
  14. Friberg, N. 1998. Forest and forest streams. Danmarks Miljøundersøgelser (now Danish Centre for Environment and Energy), Temarapport from DMU 21/1998 (in Danish).Google Scholar
  15. Friis-Møller, P., J. Bigler, B.O. Nielsen, I.M. Thomsen, R.M. Buttenschøn, and J. Heilmann-Clausen. 2010. Dynamics and disturbances in the forest. In Naturen i Danmark. Skovene, ed. P. Friis-Møller, 271–303. Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandel og Nordisk Forlag A/S. (in Danish).Google Scholar
  16. Gundersen, P., A. Laurén, L. Finér, E. Ring, H. Koivusalo, M. Sætersdal, J.-O. Weslien, B.D. Sigurdsson, et al. 2010. Environmental services provided from riparian forests in the Nordic countries. Ambio 39: 555–566. doi: 10.1007/s13280-010-0073-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hoover, T.M., X. Pinto, and J.S. Richardson. 2011. Riparian canopy type, management history, and successional stage control fluxes of plant litter to streams. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41: 1394–1404. doi: 10.1139/x11-067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johansson, J. 2013. Constructing and contesting the legitimacy of private forest governance: the case of forest certification in Sweden. Ph.D. Thesis. Sweden: Umeå University.Google Scholar
  19. Joensuu, S., M. Kauppila, M. Lindén, and T. Tenhola. 2012. Guidelines for good forestry practices—water protection. Helsinki: Publications of Tapio. (in Finnish).Google Scholar
  20. Jordan, A., R.K.W. Wurzel, and A. Zito. 2005. The rise of ‘new’ policy Instruments in comparative perspective: has governance eclipsed government? Political Studies 53: 477–496. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2005.00540.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kreutzweiser, D., S. Capell, K. Good, and S. Holmes. 2009. Sediment deposition in streams adjacent to upland clearcuts and partially harvested riparian buffers in boreal forest catchments. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 1578–1585. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.07.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kreutzweiser, D.P., P.W. Hazlett, and J.M. Gunn. 2008. Logging impacts on the biogeochemistry of boreal forest soils and nutrient export to aquatic systems: a review. Environmental Reviews 16: 157–179. doi: 10.1139/a08-006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kuglerová, L., A. Ågren, R. Jansson, and H. Laudon. 2014. Towards optimizing riparian buffer zones: ecological and biogeochemical implications for forest management. Forest Ecology and Management 334: 74–84. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.08.033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Latvian Ministry of Agriculture. 1923. Instruction for forest inventory. Riga: Latvian Ministry of Agriculture. (in Latvian).Google Scholar
  25. Latvian Ministry of Agriculture. 1937. Instruction for forest protection. Valdibas Vestnesis 260: 1–4. (in Latvian).Google Scholar
  26. Lundin, L., and T. Nilsson. 2014. Initial effects of forest N, Ca, Mg and B large-scale fertilization on surface water chemistry and leaching from a catchment in central Sweden. Forest Ecology and Management 331: 218–226. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.08.017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mayer, P.M., S.K. Jr, M.D.McCutchen Reynolds, and T.J. Canfield. 2007. Meta-analysis of nitrogen removal in riparian buffers. Journal of Environmental Quality 36: 1172–1180. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McDermott, C.L., B. Cashore, and P. Kanowski. 2009. Setting the bar: An international comparison of public and private forest policy specifications and implications for explaining policy trends. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences 6: 217–237. doi: 10.1080/19438150903090533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mårald, E., C. Sandström, L. Rist, O. Rosvall, L. Samuelsson, and A. Idenfors. 2015. Exploring the use of a dialogue process to tackle a complex and controversial issue in forest management. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 30: 749–756. doi: 10.1080/02827581.2015.1065343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. NCM. 2017. Nordic Council of Ministers. Accessed 22 Mar 2017.
  31. Nieminen, M., E. Ahti, H. Koivusalo, T. Mattsson, S. Sarkkola, and A. Laurén. 2010. Export of suspended solids and dissolved elements from peatland areas after ditch network maintenance in South-Central Finland. Silva Fennica 44: 39–49. doi: 10.14214/sf.161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Päivinen, J., N. Björkqvist, L. Karvonen, M. Kaukonen, K.-M. Korhonen, P. Kuokkanen, H. Lehtonen, and A. Tolonen. 2011. Forestry and environmental management. Vantaa: Metsähallitus Publications of Forestry 67. (in Finnish).Google Scholar
  33. PEFC. 2010. Sustainable forest management—requirements. PEFC ST 1003:2010. Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.Google Scholar
  34. PEFC. 2015. PEFC Global Statistics: SFM & CoC Certification, Data: December 2015. Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.
  35. Raatikainen, M., and E. Kuusisto. 1990. The number and surface area of the lakes in Finland. Terra 102: 97–110. (in Finnish).Google Scholar
  36. Richardson, J.S., and S. Béraud. 2014. Effects of riparian forest harvest on streams: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology 51: 1712–1721. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richardson, J.S., R.J. Naiman, and P.A. Bisson. 2012. How did fixed-width buffers become standard practice for protecting freshwaters and their riparian areas from forest harvest practices? Freshwater Science 31: 232–238. doi: 10.1899/11-031.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Swedish Forest Agency. 2014. Swedish statistical yearbook of forestry 2014. Jönköping: Swedish Forest Agency.Google Scholar
  39. Sweeney, B.W., and J.D. Newbold. 2014. Streamside forest buffer width needed to protect stream water quality, habitat, and organisms: a literature review. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50: 560–584. doi: 10.1111/jawr.12203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tamre, R. 2006. List of lakes in Estonia. Natural and artificial lakes. Ministry of the Environment Information Centre. (in Estonian).
  41. The World Bank. 2016. Accessed 8 Apr 2016.
  42. The World Bank. 2017. Accessed 13 Mar 2017.

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Skogforsk (The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden)UppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Södertörn UniversityHuddingeSweden
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  4. 4.University of AkureyriAkureyriIceland
  5. 5.Natural Resources Institute Finland-LukeJoensuuFinland
  6. 6.LSFRI SilavaSalaspilsLatvia
  7. 7.Institute of Ecology, School of Natural Sciences and HealthTallinn UniversityTallinnEstonia
  8. 8.Faculty of Forest Science, Department of Soil and EnvironmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  9. 9.University of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  10. 10.Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy ResearchÅsNorway

Personalised recommendations