Automatgenererad bild.

28 January 2016

Forest owners better equipped to meet climate change

Swedish forest owners have now become better prepared for the task of adapting forestry to the effects of a changed climate. So thinks Markku Rummukainen, Mistra-SWECIA’s recently retired Programme Director.

‘I hope that Mistra-SWECIA has helped to give operators in the forest sector a better basis for their decision-making. But time will tell what research has contributed and how forest owners, the forest industry and agencies will continue their adaptation to climate change,’ says Markku Rummukainen.

Even if global warming were to stop at well under two degrees Celsius ­­­­— the target limit aimed at in the global climate agreement recently signed in Paris ­­­­— climate change will be palpable. What changes are expected in Sweden? How will forestry be affected? And how can forest owners and other operators in the forest sector tackle the changes? These have been central questions for the climate researchers, economists and social scientists working in the Swedish Research Programme on Climate, Impacts and Adaptation (Mistra-SWECIA).

In November, the programme marked the conclusion of its eight years’ work with a final conference. Some 70 researchers and representatives of the business sector, government agencies and organisations met in Stockholm to sum up the results and look to the future.

‘Awareness of the need for climate change adaptation has grown among operators in the forest sector over the past eight years. Mistra-SWECIA has contributed to this. We’ve also developed data and tools for further work.’

Successful outreach with findings

Developing more scientifically based knowledge of climate adaptation is not enough, says Rummukainen. He asserts that Mistra-SWECIA, during the second phase of the programme (2012–15), has done a great deal of work to make the new knowledge accessible to private forest owners, industrial companies and agencies.

For example, the researchers sent out questionnaires to thousands of forest owners. Based on their replies, factors affecting how knowledge is put to use were then analysed. The replies were also used to develop ‘agent-based modelling’, which can help agencies and researchers to study decision-making by different forest operators. The programme researchers also helped to update, with information about climate change, the tools of the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk) for selecting materials for silviculture.

Another outcome of the programme is new interdisciplinary collaborations among natural scientists, economists and social scientists. Although the programme is now being formally concluded the researchers are continuing to work together on, for example, a project concerning extreme weather and climate events and on modelling global and regional connections between climate change, climate effects and the economy.

Text: Henrik Lundström

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