Adaptation to climate change has, thus far, had a weak impact on the Swedish forestry sector; instead, arguments for increased productivity and other climate policy measures have dominated the public debate.

A Mistra-SWECIA case study examined the Swedish forestry sector’s perceptions of the issue of adaptation, looking at how views evolved between 1990 and 2010. The analysis was based on a literature review and interviews with key players within Swedish forestry, both from industry and public administration, as well as forest owners from Kronoberg and Västerbotten.

The study outlined the most important recommendations for adaptation and criticisms from the discussions, what the counter-arguments were and which additional social issues had been taken into account, as well as how external events influenced the debate. The analysis also looked at how social development has influenced the Swedish forestry sector, and the lessons learned that could be applied to future decision-making.

The results show that after many years of advocacy by researchers and some policy- and decision-makers, arguments in favour of adaptation have gained increasing legitimacy within Swedish forestry policy and within the sector at large in recent years. Despite this, the issue of adaptation has had a weak impact on the forestry sector. Instead, the debate has been dominated by arguments in favour of climate policy measures that contribute to increasing carbon sequestration in forests and other land-based ecosystems, as well as in long-life products, and the potential for renewable energy via increased forestry production.

The study shows that adaptation efforts can be strengthened by strong leadership and a clear mandate, as well as by creating arenas where all Swedish forest stakeholders can meet, discuss and exchange experiences and knowledge about the adaptation options for Swedish forestry.

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Read the full report, Climate Change Adaptation in Swedish Forestry: A Historical Overview, 1990–2012 »