Forest owners’ interest in fast-growing broadleaves in focus

Woman with chain saw looking at broadleaf forest. Photo.
Photo: tetxu, Shutterstock


Stina Johannesson

To what extent are private forest owners in Sweden willing to increase the use of fast-growing broadleaves and what factors affect such decisions? These are some of the questions which researcher Louise Eriksson and PhD student Caroline Rapp expect will be answered in a survey that will be sent out shortly to 5000 of the more than 300 000 private forest owners in Sweden.

The researchers are interested in the attitudes towards fast-growing broadleaves among all types of forest owners - small-scale and large-scale owners, women and men, those who recently acquired their forest as well as those with long management experience. The survey, which is part of Caroline Rapp’s PhD project, is focused on improved birch but also covers aspen, hybrid aspen and poplar. The researchers encourage all forest owners who will receive the survey to respond, since this contributes to the increased knowledge on the interest for fast-growing broadleaves.

“Our general hypothesis is that the owners’ decisions to adopt fast-growing broadleaves are determined by physical characteristics associated with the forest and the location of the forest but also the owners’ social network and psychological factors including beliefs and attitudes”, says Louise Eriksson, researcher in environmental psychology at Umeå University and project leader of the Trees For Me research work package focused on societal transitions.

Voluntary climate adaptation was investigated

Even if there are currently no regulations demanding that the forest management in Sweden should be adapted to a changing climate a previous study of Louise Eriksson shows that some forest owners do consider such changes in their management. In the study, Louise Eriksson and her colleagues investigated if voluntarism among private forest owners in Sweden is an effective and legitimate way of governing climate adaptation of forests.

The researchers found that while climate adaptation was higher in the forests in the south of Sweden, the increase in climate adaptation between 2014 and 2018 was greater in the north/middle regions of Sweden. The increase in climate adaptation was explained by the increased emphasis on biodiversity values among the forest owners.

Fast-growing broadleaf benefits and challenges

“In this new study, we consider that the location of the forest will influence forest owners’ intention to adopt fast-growing broadleaves and I anticipate regional differences to be an important factor in that”, says PhD student Caroline Rapp. 

The public view on fast-growing broadleaf forests will be investigated later on in the project, and the researchers hope to be able to follow up if the share of forest owners being familiar with and potentially considering planting improved birch is increasing in a more long-term perspective. But first Caroline Rapp will investigate the benefits and challenges different stakeholder groups associate with the utilization of fast-growing broadleaves.

“I am interested in gaining knowledge on the specific conditions in which increasing the share of fast-growing broadleaves would be acceptable for the included stakeholders”, says Caroline Rapp.

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