To manage for sustainability in a complex and changing world requires understanding of the coupled human-environmental system. The two case studies in this licentiate thesis are linked by what we can learn from past and current management in the form of feedback and how it can be incorporated into practical forest management within the boreal region.
Paper I outlines cross-scale monitoring of feedback within three large forest companies in the southern and middle boreal region in Sweden today. Available information as presented in interviews with forest management personnel is compared with 47 indicators linked to ecosystem properties based on a literature review. The indicators are categorized according to five nationally identified deficiencies in the Swedish boreal forest: disturbances, reserved areas, snags and logs, deciduous trees, and old-growth. The results show a separation of recorded data in two largely uncoordinated systems, Ecological Landscape Plans and stand registers. Accumulated statistics are primarily related to the stand scale and production-oriented, there are information gaps regarding different ecosystem structures and spatial distributions, e.g. dead wood and habitat networks.
Paper II focuses on the development of landscape structures in a longer time perspective. Historical maps and a forest classification based on satellite data is used to delineate change trajectories in a landscape in Dalarna County over the past 300 years. The trajectories include land cover categories and two selected human drivers of change: management regime and ownership. Links between drivers of change, landscape structure, and feedback to present-day forest cover are analyzed using GIS and extended transition matrixes. The results show that in the studied landscape: forest cover continuity is the dominating landscape feature over time, large dynamics are primarily associated with smaller elements, dominating ownership category shifts over time and spatial redistribution along with large quantitative changes are frequent, ownership changes are reflected in management regimes, and the best predictor of forest composition today is past ownership.
The collected information on composition, structure, and function in the “everyday” landscape is limited in current Swedish large-scale boreal forestry. This is most probably not a sufficient basis for maintaining ecosystem heterogeneity and resilience over time. To further promote sustainable forest management, there is a need for tools that incorporate feedback from forest ecosystems into management. By studying local land cover processes in relation to contemporary management based on historical material, properties of the ecosystem feedback can be outlined in a landscape perspective over time. In addition, cross-scale monitoring of dynamics and effects of landscape heterogeneity on management results are limited. Strategies and tools to achieve sustainable boreal forest management need to reflect spatial and temporal dynamics, as well as inherent heterogeneities in landscape mosaics and socioeconomic systems to a larger extent.