The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL

The book

Maintaining and enhancing European forests’ biological diversity as well as ensuring their resilience and adaptability so that they can continue providing a broad range of ecosystem services in a rapidly changing environment is key for the sustainability of European societies. Doing so requires more than ever an informed, fluent and effective dialogue between scientists, policy makers, forest landowners, forest managers and nature conservationists.

Recommended citation: Krumm, F.; Schuck, A.; Rigling, A. (eds), 2020: How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – A view across Europe. European Forest Institute (EFI); Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf. 640 p

The modern and pragmatic concept of integrated forest management can be seen as the starting point for improving the sustainability of the forest sector. The authors of the new book “How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – a view across Europe” present the basic guidelines of this concept and provide views from science and practice on how to harmonize biodiversity conservation and wood production in a given forest area.

In the first part of the book, the theoretical framing, the past and current context and framework conditions, and future challenges and solutions for integrated forest management are discussed. The second part highlights 32 selected examples of forest enterprises, forest owners and regional initiatives from all over Europe. Finally, a toolbox of integrative measures is provided that is derived from the implementation examples and which is aimed to help local forest owners and managers to get an overview over suitable applied measures.

The authors show that European forests are strongly shaped by their cultural heritage resulting in a high regional diversity and conclude that locally rooted integrated forest management approaches are needed to maintain and increase biodiversity in forests. Moreover, it is shown that integrated management approaches can balance the need for wood and fiber production and the requirements to conserve biodiversity and promote other ecosystem services that forest provide. There is, however, a strong need to improve knowledge communication between forest managers and conservation experts and the population to explain the potential of integrated approaches. With its balance between production and conservation integrated forest management might be a role model for tropical forestry but also for other land use sectors within Europe such as agriculture. Increasing diversity in European forests may cost on the one hand and it is therefore crucial to calculate and communicate true costs behind production. On the other hand, there is also a strong benefit as an increase in biodiversity is an important means to make forest more resilience towards the impacts of climate change.

The examples from practice demonstrate how a long tradition in multipurpose forest management with focus on timber production can be preserved and at the same time further developed towards integrated biodiversity promotion in line with changing societal needs in densely populated areas. Different ways and measures are shown that allow to adapt intensive forest management in order to promote biodiversity and other important goods and services while producing wood. Moreover, it gets also visible from the practice examples that acceptance for local initiative and the consideration of cultural peculiarities are crucial in order to maintain local value chains and to promote landscapes rich in biodiversity.

The measures in the examples from practice are synthesized to a silvicultural toolbox. The toolbox contains on the one hand biological/ecological management tools which are further grouped into separate sections indicating the spatial focus of the measures: 1. Landscape scale tools, 2. Tree and deadwood related tools and 3. Species related tools. On the other hand, socioeconomic tools are further exemplified. Examples for landscape tools are the establishment of forest reserves and connecting landscape elements together with the restoration of pasture systems. Species related tools comprise promotion of genetic diversity, the promotion of rare and ecological important trees but also the introduction of predators to decrease the browsing pressure. Economic tools span from education and training measures to ecosponsoring. Applying such integrated forest management approaches and using the tools highlighted in this book allows respecting and maintaining in a sustainable way the different forest goods and services, including biodiversity. It is demonstrated that there are promising approaches for future forest management that allow to bring the different views and demands together, creating synergies and securing the forest functioning and the delivery of important goods and services for coming generations. Still there are further possibilities to broaden the concept of integrated forest management and forest biodiversity conservation and the book ends with a list of suggestions for forest policy, management and science. With its broad view on the scientific background of integrated forest management together with examples from practices that show the variety of possibilities to implement measures balancing different ecosystem services, this publication is a valuable document for all experts working in the field of forestry and nature conservation.