1 Section for Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet3 University of Jyväskylä4 University of Liverpool5 University of Latvia6 Czech University of Life Sciences7 Mid Sweden University8 Natural Heritage Services9 Daugavpils University10 Institute of Botany of Nature Research Centre11 University of Eastern Finland (University of Joensuu)12 University of Helsinki13 Saint-Petersburg State Forest University14 Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla, Vantaa15 University of Lapland16 European Centre for Natural Forests, Białowieża17 University of Liverpool18 University of Latvia19 Mid Sweden University20 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet21 Section for Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet22 University of Lapland
lessons from forests in northern Europe
The alarming rate of ecosystem degradation has raised the need for ecological restoration throughout different biomes and continents. North European forests may appear as one of the least vulnerable ecosystems from a global perspective, since forest cover is not rapidly decreasing and many ecosystem services remain at high level. However, extensive areas of northern forests are heavily exploited and have lost a major part of their biodiversity value. There is a strong requirement to restore these areas towards a more natural condition in order to meet the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Several northern countries are now taking up this challenge by restoring forest biodiversity with increasing intensity. The ecology and biodiversity of boreal forests are relatively well understood making them a good model for restoration activities in many other forest ecosystems. Here we introduce northern forests as an ecosystem, discuss the historical and recent human impact and provide a brief status report on the ecological restoration projects and research already conducted there. Based on this discussion, we argue that before any restoration actions commence, the ecology of the target ecosystem should be established with the need for restoration carefully assessed and the outcome properly monitored. Finally, we identify the most important challenges that need to be solved in order to carry out efficient restoration with powerful and long-term positive impacts on biodiversity: coping with unpredictability, maintaining connectivity in time and space, assessment of functionality, management of conflicting interests and social restrictions and ensuring adequate funding.
Biological Conservation, 2013, Vol 167, p. 248-256