Socio-ecological implications of modifying rotation lengths in forestry

Ambio. 2016 Feb;45 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):109-23. doi: 10.1007/s13280-015-0747-4.


The rotation length is a key component of even-aged forest management systems. Using Fennoscandian forestry as a case, we review the socio-ecological implications of modifying rotation lengths relative to current practice by evaluating effects on a range of ecosystem services and on biodiversity conservation. The effects of shortening rotations on provisioning services are expected to be mostly negative to neutral (e.g. production of wood, bilberries, reindeer forage), while those of extending rotations would be more varied. Shortening rotations may help limit damage by some of today's major damaging agents (e.g. root rot, cambium-feeding insects), but may also increase other damage types (e.g. regeneration pests) and impede climate mitigation. Supporting (water, soil nutrients) and cultural (aesthetics, cultural heritage) ecosystem services would generally be affected negatively by shortened rotations and positively by extended rotations, as would most biodiversity indicators. Several effect modifiers, such as changes to thinning regimes, could alter these patterns.

Keywords: Climate change; Forest damage; Non-timber forest products; Production; Recreation; Timber.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem
  • Forestry / methods*
  • Forests
  • Pest Control
  • Recreation
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors