Green forest policies - a comparative assessment of outcomes and trade-offs across Fenno-Scandinavia

  • Droste, Nils (Project coordinator)
  • D'Amato, Dalia (CoPI)
  • Ekström, Hanna (Research student)
  • Iliev, Bogomil E. (Research student)
  • May, Wilhelm (CoPI)
  • Thomsen, Marianne (CoPI)
  • Christiansen, Ditte Marie (Researcher)
  • Ayonghe, Nebasifu (Researcher)

Project: Research

Project Details


The project sets out to establish a novel that will constitute a major methodological GreenPole integrated policy assessment advancement in interdisciplinary science for sustainable development. By focusing on the Nordic forest sector, it does not just contribute to a better understanding of the multiple outcomes dimensions of a centrally relevant land use sector for the Nordic economies. It will also enhance our understanding of the Nordic forest policy outcomes for globally relevant sustainable development dimensions such as climate change, biodiversity, and welfare. It will set an unprecedentedly comprehensive evidence base for non-prescriptive policy advice that will allow to design Nordic forest policies that may be better aligned with these sustainable development dimensions.

The project will estimate the among multiple outcome dimensions. Unintended effects of different forest policies in the Nordic countries consequences, trade-offs and synergies can thus be evaluated. This will allow to identify policies and governance approaches that come with minimal trade-offs and / or maximum synergies. For example, the project could identify which policy maximizes forest carbon storage while being non-harmful to forest biodiversity and cultural ecosystem services. By the integrative, interdisciplinary policy assessment, multiple forest ecosystem services can be evaluated in a comprehensive way that allows to model their functional relationship. Thereby, the project develops a solid and encompassing evidence base to understand the effects of forest policies across Nordic countries.

As academic knowledge alone is not enough to create societal change, the project will engage in an transdisciplinary outreach strategy in which the (knowledge) needs of decision-makers will be integrated to co-produce a communication strategy that maximizes impact. The project aims at providing realistic and feasible policy recommendations that take into account the interests of relevant stakeholders while showcasing options to improve outcomes of forest policies in terms of sustainable development. Such a pragmatic approach to formulate non-prescriptive policy advice holds the potential of being acceptable and thus may be implemented. Simply put, the project will assess past and current forest policies in the Nordic countries to learn what works best where and why. This knowledge shall then be prepared and communicated in a way that shows options to decision makers how they can potentially improve on the current status quo. Thereby the project aims to contribute to the European forest policy vision of a green and just circular bioeconomy and the
Nordic Council of Minister's commitment to green transitions.

As forests are a crucial natural resource in the Nordic countries, climate change is to be mitigated, and biodiversity loss shall be adverted, the question of trade-offs is far from trivial. There is a substantial lack of knowledge how Nordic forest management can minimize or even avoid large-scale trade-offs among, for example climate mitigation, biodiversity conservation, recreational ecosystem services, and economic income. While learning from the past, the GreenPole project has a forward looking perspective: What can we learn from past attempts in order to improve future forest governance? This will hopefully allow for some of the generated knowledge to be integrated in future policies beyond the grant period. As forest management works in relatively large planning cycles, the intended impact of the project could thus potentially be considered long-lasting.

It is the sincere ambition of the project to contribute to the development of sustainable forest management practices that help adverting climate change and biodiversity loss while providing stable incomes and multiple cultural uses. If some recommendations or ideas that stem from the project are be taken up in actual forest management and policies, that will entirely be considered a success. The project does plan a substantial outreach phase over the last year of the funding period to integrate the knowledge needs of decision and policy makers into taylor-making outreach products. This transdisciplinary outreach strategy aims at maximizing the potential for long-lasting outreach and shall be carefully prepared over the first three years of the project to be implement in the last year. By integrating the knowledge needs of relevant stakeholders, the project can leverage the generated knowledge in ways that correspond to actual and practical issues in forest management and policies.

Layman's description

GreenPole stands for “Green forest policies: a comparative assessment of outcomes and trade-offs across Fenno-Scandinavia”. The project focuses on forest policies and compares the governance approaches across Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark GreenPole over the last 20 years. The focus lies on assessing the effectiveness of past and present policy mixes that affect forest management and thus the quantity and quality of Nordic forests. In particular, the project will evaluate policy outcomes in terms of synergies and trade-offs across forest productivity, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and additional societal demands such as recreational values or water filtration capacities. The project will employ a novel mixed-method approach that integrates various disciplines from political science, forest business management, climate science, environmental sciences, and ecology. In particular, the policy evaluations will make use of the latest quantitative methods for causal inference, state-of-the-art qualitative methods to integrate expert knowledge, ecological modelling to integrate interaction effects of climate and biodiversity, and life-cycle assessments to track carbon along the value chain of forest products. This interdisciplinary, mixed-method approach can be called an . integrated policy assessment As such, it does not only contribute to the development of knowledge within each discipline but essentially advances a comprehensive understanding of socio-ecological forest systems. By conducting the integrated policy assessment from a comparative perspective and identifying particularly effective governance approaches, the GreenPole project will identify empirically founded lessons and formulate non-prescriptive policy advice. The project will thereby provide an empirical evidence base for mutual learning for sustainable forest management in the Nordic countries with a consideration of global value chains. By exploring potential future pathways along scenarios for climate change and governance approaches, the project will develop and disseminate visions for the transition of Nordic GreenPole
forest systems towards a green and inclusive economy.
Short titleGreen forest policies
Effective start/end date2021/08/012025/07/31

Collaborative partners


  • FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development
  • Nordic Forest Research (SNS)

UKÄ subject classification

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries