Sweden does not meet agreed national and international forest biodiversity targets: A call for adaptive landscape planning

Per Angelstam, Michael Manton, Martin Green, Bengt Gunnar Jonsson, Grzegorz Mikusiński, Johan Svensson, Francesco Maria Sabatini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Loss of forest naturalness challenges the maintenance of green infrastructure (GI) for biodiversity conservation and delivery of diverse ecosystem services. Using the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi target #11 with its quantitative and qualitative criteria as a normative model, we aim at supporting landscape planning through a pioneering assessment of the extent to which existing amounts and spatial distributions of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) meet these criteria. Highly forested and committed to both intensive wood production and evidence-based conservation targets of 17–20% protected areas, Sweden was chosen as a case study. Specifically, we estimated the amount, regional representation, and functional connectivity of HCVF patches using virtual bird species, validated the results using field surveys of focal bird species, and assessed conservation target fulfilment. Finally, we linked these results to the regional distribution of forest land ownership categories, and stress that these provide different opportunities for landscape planning. Even if 31% of forest land in Sweden is officially protected, voluntarily set-aside, or not used for wood production now and in the future, we show that applying the representation and connectivity criteria of Aichi target #11 reduces this figure to an effective GI of 12%. When disaggregating the five ecoregions the effective GI was 54% for the sub-alpine forest ecoregion, which hosts EU's last intact forest landscapes, but only 3–8% in the other four ecoregions where wood production is predominant. This results in an increasing need for forest habitat and landscape restoration from north to south. The large regional variation in the opportunity for landscape planning stresses the need for a portfolio of different approaches. We stress the need to secure funding mechanisms for compensating land owners’ investments in GI, and to adapt both the approaches and spatial extents of landscape planning units to land ownership structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103838
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries

Free keywords

  • Biodiversity conservation targets
  • Connectivity
  • Green infrastructure
  • Land ownership
  • Landscape approach
  • Landscape planning
  • Representativeness


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