This synthesis brief summarizes key insights from SEI’s research on climate change adaptation in Swedish forestry as part of the 2008–2015 Mistra-SWECIA programme.

The climate is changing because of human activities, and in Sweden, the forestry sector, which accounts for about 2% of GDP, is particularly exposed to climate change impacts. The forests are already being affected by warmer and more erratic temperatures, changes in precipitation, and extreme weather events. Large-scale losses from storms, droughts, fires and pest infestations are expected to become more common – but forest productivity is also increasing. Adaptation is crucial to minimize vulnerability to negative impacts and seize new opportunities.

By taking a broad perspective on climate risks, vulnerability and adaptation in a real-world context, SEI set out to better understand the social factors that determine the success of adaptation, and how to overcome barriers to enable stakeholders to adapt to the full extent of their capacity. In particular, the research focused on the roughly 330,000 individual owners who manage about half of Sweden’s forests, including about 11.5 million hectares of productive forest land.

SEI’s work in Mistra-SWECIA also fostered science-based stakeholder dialogues to more directly address forest owners’ questions and needs, and to enable knowledge-sharing and collaborative learning among forest owners and researchers. In addition, it examined the role of social networks for communicating different types of knowledge and information among actors, and how they underpin opportunities for – and barriers to – adaptation.

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