Managing Nordic boreal forest landscapes for biodiversity: Ecological and economic perspectives
More conservation-oriented forest management practices have been implemented recently in the Nordic countries. The goal of this ecological forest landscape management is to reconcile the commercial harvesting of boreal forests with biodiversity conservation. Management aims at maintaining viable populations of the full array of naturally occurring species in an area while still keeping the timber flow as maximal as possible. Basic ecological tools of managing landscape for biodiversity are (1) to mimic natural disturbance regimes, (2) to set aside areas in permanent or temporary nature reserves, and (3) to enhance dispersal of organisms by creating habitat corridors and stepping stones. The ecological basis of this management system is not well founded, and much more empirical and theoretical research is needed to justify and further develop forest landscape management. It has also proved difficult to assess the economic consequences of more conservation-oriented forest management because the market economy largely fails to give value to forest products other than fibre. Considerable methodological development in the valuation of non-timber goods has occurred in recent years, but there is still much controversy over the justification of the valuation procedure in principle. It seems that both economic and moral approaches to the issue of valuation are inseparable from the choices and decisions we have to make about ecological systems. Perhaps the most fruitful outcome can be achieved by using moral and economic arguments in parallel.