How Forest Bioeconomy Becomes a Reality

Jun 28, 2024

Making a green transition is no easy task with many stakeholders, limited resources and conflicts between interests. With a new system for decision-making and a local view, there is help at hand.

Forests provide several different services: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the chairs we sit on. All these forest ecosystem services are important for a green transition into a bioeconomy. However, the forest resources are limited, and no stakeholder can maximize their interest demand on the forest without affecting other stakeholders, which means that difficult choices must be made. The OneForest project analysed the policies and stakeholders in four European countries: Catalonia, Spain, the canton Grisons, Switzerland, Hesse and Thuringia, Germany and Estonia to determine how these difficult choices can be made.

When talking to stakeholders, the difficulties in finding a general agreement become clear. All the countries are different in their relationship to the forest, how they use it and how industries are built.

“Estonia was very production-oriented, much more than biodiversity preservation, although we could also find that there. In Grison, the forest has a big function: protecting against avalanches and landslides. In Catalonia, fire protection was a key issue; although fire is discussed in these regions, the geographical scope is very different. Also, the relationship between the timber industry and the semi-finished products was very different between the countries”, says Camilla Widmark, associate professor, Department of Forest Economics, SLU and part of the project.

The solution that fits all does not exist. However, there are ways to navigate and move forward. Firstly, it is important to know the local conflicts, how did it start? And how it affects the different stakeholders. The next step is to understand how to include this in decision-making. In the OneForest project, they developed a multi-criteria decision-making support system. It contains forest management strategies with scenarios for future pathways. For example, in a scenario where the focus is on timber balancing ecological and economic values, indicators for harvest and revenues are weighted higher while the biodiversity index is low. The system will then suggest management based on high-intensity rotation while a smaller share is managed through continuous cover forestry.

“It is also important to remember the people and understand the public in relation to other stakeholders. Those are the drivers of the economy. And if we don’t have them with us, then it’s going to be really difficult to achieve the green transformation that we’re looking into.” says Camilla Widmark.

More about the project