2.1 Multi-purpose management of forests


European forestry has focused traditionally on sustainable wood production albeit with major differences from region to region. However, this singleuse focus does not embrace the rich offering of goods and services forests can provide, such as nature conservation, watershed management, recreation, soil preservation, raw material production and carbon sequestration. For many owners the forest is not their main source of income and attention is shifting from wood production to more integrated forest management or nature conservation. These forest owners need innovative guidance approaches that can meet the new demands and at the same time make use of the landowners’ forest-related skills. This research area of multi-purpose use and management forms a bridge between forest ecology and the provision of forest products and services.

State of the Art 2012 

Forest management models up to the turn of the last century were traditionally directed to wood production in even-aged and mono-species stands. How forests should be managed to satisfy multiple demands in an optimal way is poorly understood. Spatial integration or the segregation of forest functions is heavily debated. New management systems that can deal with multiple objectives and assist forest managers in providing environmental services and growing new qualities and types of raw materials are lacking. Also, the interaction and communication between forest owners and society on the subject of multiple demands need to be strengthened. The impact of governance and regulations related to multi-purpose forestry is also little understood (see RIA 1.3).

Expected achievements by 2020 

By 2020 better understanding of technological, biological and value-based aspects of how enhanced planning and improved forest management will support multi-functionality, will have been achieved. The impacts of forest management on the ecosystem are much better understood. By then improved and optimal separation and integration of functions will take place, from local to national and at European level. Many of the multiple functions (next to wood as a source of income) are an integral part of new and concrete management regimes. Forest management systems simultaneously optimise the provision of several goods and services, taking into account the trade-offs between different management strategies.

Required Research and Innovation Activities 

A. Research into the trade-offs between multiple technical, biological and value-based functions both on small and large spatial scales, to form the basis for socially and environmentally optimal new management regimes.
B. Research into regionally and locally specific forest management regimes that are able to cope with climate change and at the same time fulfil local and global needs.
C. Develop new modes of stakeholder-based adaptive management to fulfil all functions of the forest, optimally separated or integrated at various scales and under different regional conditions.
D. Try out new business models to activate small forest owners to improve their long-term social and economic sustainability.
E. Research the raw material requirements of the production of wood products, as well as new forest-based products, specialised products and the provision of a variety of non-wood products and ecosystem services.
F. Quantify the total value of forests and their functions.
G. Develop regulatory instruments to compensate for non-marketed goods and services.
H. Improved understanding and interaction between forest managers and society, industry and NGOs (local stakeholders as well as broader interest groups) and research governance modes, adaptive planning and supporting instruments.
I. Multidisciplinary research within the scope of an integrated landscape concept.