Addressing biodiversity in a stakeholder-driven climate change vulnerability assessment of forest management

TitleAddressing biodiversity in a stakeholder-driven climate change vulnerability assessment of forest management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLexer M.J., Seidl R.
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume258
IssueSUPPL.
PaginationS158 - S167
Date Published2009///
KeywordsBiodiversity conservation, Climatic change, Multi-criteria analysis, PICUS, Sustainable forest management, Vulnerability surface
TagsBiodiversity conservation, Multi-criteria analysis, Sustainable forest management, Climatic change, PICUS, Vulnerability surface
Abstract

Besides protected areas multi-functionally managed forests play an important role in the effort to maintain biodiversity, particularly in areas of intensive historical and current land use. The integration of biodiversity issues under the umbrella of sustainable forest management (SFM) is thus vital to achieve conservation goals. A major challenge for SFM is climate change, and science-based assessment and decision support frameworks are required to address climatic uncertainties in management planning. In this contribution we address issues of biodiversity in the context of a climate change vulnerability assessment framework for 164,550 ha of mountain forests managed by the Austrian Federal Forests (AFF). The principal tools applied to study climate-forest-management interactions and their implications for the multiple objectives of SFM were the ecosystem model PICUS v1.4, multi-criteria analysis and a stakeholder dialogue with the AFF. With this study framework as an example, our objective was to highlight the role of biodiversity within climate change vulnerability assessment of SFM. We found only limited climate sensitivity of SFM biodiversity indicators, compared to production-oriented aspects, as a result of strong management-mediated controls on forest structure and composition. Consequently, overall SFM climate vulnerability was decreasing in the assessment framework with increasing preference weight on biodiversity. However, the role and effect of biodiversity within the multi-indicator assessment framework differed strongly over elevation belts. Our analysis highlights (i) the importance of a realistic consideration of management in assessing biodiversity under SFM; (ii) the need for a concise definition of goals and thresholds for biodiversity conservation in managed forests; (iii) the importance of the local context in defining and interpreting indicators; and (iv) the relevance of an integrated assessment of dynamically interacting processes and indicators, such as disturbances, management and biodiversity. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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