Set aside areas in certified private forest estates in Southern Sweden : are the best stands chosen?

University essay from SLU/Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

Abstract: The concept of sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation has becomemore and more important in the last decades. The preservation of key habitats andecologically valuable forests is recognized to be a goal in the planning process. Forestcertification is a tool used to implement and achieve this objective. In Sweden the ForestStewardship Council (FSC) certification imposes to the forest owners who want to becertified, to set aside at least 5% of their properties for biodiversity purposes. In southernSweden this mechanism becomes very relevant, since the small private forest is the mostcommon form of ownership.This thesis aims to investigate how much the conservation value of the set aside areasdiffers among different estates. Furthermore the presence of structures important forbiodiversity in such small private forest estates is analysed, in particular comparing set asideareas and the most ecologically valuable non set aside areas.The question that was tried to be answered was if the stands presenting the highestecological and biodiversity values were those set aside.The study implementation consisted of inventorying ten estates certified according toFSC scheme and estimating the ecological value of the stands belonging to both, set aside andnon set aside areas. A simplified biodiversity estimate was used where features representingthe most important structures for forest biodiversity were checked. In particular differenttypes of dead wood were surveyed and analysed, tree diameters (as a representation of oldtrees) and deciduous tree component. In addition an assessment of biodiversity potential wasconducted in each stand, as a further variable which gives a score indicating the presence ofvaluable elements.The data analysis showed that there was no significant difference in the amount of deadwood between set aside and non set aside stands. The only difference that was found was inthe amount of lying dead trees, with a slightly higher volume for the non set aside area. Thefield survey, combined with the biodiversity potential and the data revealed that in some caseslow productive stands were preferred to stands with higher ecological characteristics in thesetting aside process. A lack of large trees was also noticed.In conclusion, as a general observation, it could be said that in certified small privateforest estates, a good management of stands presenting high biodiversity potential isconducted. Yet here are elements that could be improved, like ensuring the percentage of theforest set aside fully corresponds to the most ecologically valuable area. Furthermore, the management could be done in a more efficient way, with more careful attention to substratesand element lacking in the landscape, such as large trees and deadwood.

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