From ecological knowledge to conservation policy: a case study on green tree retention and continuous-cover forestry in Sweden
BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION 2019, 28(13):3547-3574
Stens A, Roberge JM, Lofmarck E, Lindahl KB, Felton A, Widmark C, Rist L, Johansson J, Nordin A, Nilsson U, Laudon H, Ranius T
The extent to which scientific knowledge translates into practice is a pervasive question. We analysed to what extent and how ecological scientists gave input to policy for two approaches advocated for promoting forest biodiversity in production forests in Sweden: green-tree retention (GTR) and continuous-cover forestry (CCF). GTR was introduced into forest policy in the 1970s and became widely implemented in the 1990s. Ecological scientists took part in the policy process by providing expert opinions, educational activities and as lobbyists, long before research confirming the positive effects of GTR on biodiversity was produced. In contrast, CCF was essentially banned in forest legislation in 1979. In the 1990s, policy implicitly opened up for CCF implementation, but CCF still remains largely a rare silvicultural outlier. Scientific publications addressing CCF appeared earlier than GTR studies, but with less focus on the effects on biodiversity. Ecological scientists promoted CCF in certain areas, but knowledge from other disciplines and other socio-political factors appear to have been more important than ecological arguments in the case of CCF. The wide uptake of GTR was enhanced by its consistency with the silvicultural knowledge and normative values that forest managers had adopted for almost a century, whereas CCF challenged those ideas. Public pressure and institutional requirements were also key to GTR implementation but were not in place for CCF. Thus, scientific ecological knowledge may play an important role for policy uptake and development, but knowledge from other research disciplines and socio-political factors are also important.
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