Forest management in the Mediterranean key to ecosystem services provision

A research study led by the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia, the University of Lleida and CREAF assessed the future provision of different ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests under a set of forest management and climate change scenarios.

Photo: Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC)

Forests in the Mediterranean basin have historically contributed to human well-being and to national economies by providing multiple ecosystem services. Recent changes in forestry practices, along with the generalised projected warming under climate change will pose many challenges for the future condition and health of Mediterranean forests, potentially compromising their capacity of service provision.

In this study, we estimated future provision of ecosystem services by Mediterranean pine forests in Catalonia (NE Spain) under a set of scenarios, built by combining assumptions in projected climate and EU forest policies. The policy alternatives considered were grounded in the goals of the recently updated EU bioeconomy strategy, and included the continuation of business-as-usual, promotion of wood energy, promotion of carbon storage and reduction of forest vulnerability. The climatic and policy assumptions were translated into realistic in-site (forest plot level) silvicultural treatments to be implemented in model simulations. We coupled empirical and process-based models to estimate changes in harvested timber, carbon storage, mushroom yield, water provision, soil erosion mitigation and habitat for biodiversity by 2100 under each climate + forest policy scenario, and assessed the trade-offs and synergies between services.

Our results suggest that future provision of ecosystem services by Mediterranean forests will be more strongly determined by management policies than by climate. However, no management policy maximised the provision of all services. The continuation of the business-as-usual management would benefit some services (e.g.  soil erosion mitigation) to the detriment of water provision, but leads to higher forest vulnerability to extreme drought-events or wildfires. In a context in which disturbances are expected to increase in frequency and severity, managing for reducing fire risk or forest vulnerability to drought impacts emerges as a reasonable alternative that balances the provision of services while reducing the risk of irreversible damage to forest functioning. We also found multiple spatial synergies between ecosystem services provision, likely driven by differences in site productivity.

Full reference

Morán-Ordóñez, A., Ameztegui, A., De Cáceres, M., de-Miguel, S., Lefèvre, F., Brotons, L., Coll, L. 2020. Future trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests under global change scenarios. Ecosystem Services, 25: 101174.

SOURCEAlejandra Morán Ordóñez
Previous articleSustainability and PEFC-certified products in the hospitality sector
Next articleExamining the economic drivers of wildfire: where there’s smoke, there’s finance
Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia
The mission of the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) is to contribute to the modernisation and competitiveness of forest sector, to promote rural development and to foster the sustainable management of the environment through excellence in research and transfer of knowledge and technology to society.