Adapting Forest Management to Climate Change

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Introduction for the article “A framework for modeling adaptive forest management and decision making under climate change”

Forest owners and managers are on the frontline of adapting forest management to climate change. Their decisions are affected by their own knowledge and beliefs and the mapping of management options for the current as well as anticipated future environmental and socioeconomic conditions. This baseline knowledge influences the way forest owners and managers evaluate and make their decisions.

For climate change adaptation we need to understand the process, how forest owners and managers make their decisions. In this paper we developed a framework that gives a structured way to analyze the challenges and opportunities of managing forest in face of climate change. We then tested this framework in case studies that differ in the way climate and its impacts are projected to change and what management options are available. In addition, the forests owners and managers have different ways to form and update their beliefs as well as to use them while they select among the different adaptation options. To better illustrate this, we described here four types of decision-making processes: the “no-change”, the “reactive”, the “trend-adaptive” and the “forward-looking adaptive”. They differ in both how they consider uncertainty and new knowledge on the state of the current and future climate as well as how they evaluate alternative management decisions. We also expanded outside the case studies and analyzed experiences with alternative management strategies and optimization methods to account for different learning schemes that are simulated based on varying knowledge, belief and information.

As forests are under increasing pressure to produce services, decision-making that incorporates all the different aspects is in high demand. Our framework for identifying adaptation strategies provides solutions for enhancing forest structure and diversity, biomass and timber production, and reducing damages that are influenced by climate change. The framework is applicable in all of Europe as it is spatially heterogeneous and reflects the diversity in growing conditions and socioeconomic settings within Europe.   

This article was published in Ecology and Society volume 22, issue 4. The principal scientist of EFI’s Resilience Programme, Marcus Lindner, was one of the collaborative authors.