Converting monospecific into mixed forests: stakeholders’ views on ecosystem services in the Black Forest Region
Iulia Almeida, Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Christine Rösch, Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Somidh Saha, Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
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Converting monospecific into mixed forests can increase forests’ resilience against climate change-related extreme events such as droughts and storms. This insight is especially true when the tree species help each other, such as the fir in low mountain regions like the Black Forest, which improves the water supply of the beech through the hydraulic lift. However, the climate change adaptation strategy “mixed forests” impacts ecosystem services (ES) provided by these forests. Although the supply of ES is biophysically well-assessed, there is little knowledge about society’s views on ES, neither in terms of supply nor preferences. We aim to close this gap by investigating which ES are prioritized in mixed and monospecific forests of fir and beech at the Black Forest region. We analyzed whether differences depend on the type of forest and the stakeholders’ respective interests, and their potential benefits from these services. Making stakeholders’ perceptions explicit can facilitate their reflection, enhance knowledge-based and participatory decision making, and realize sustainable forest management strategies. We performed semi-structured interviews and conducted qualitative data analyses with MAXQDA software to investigate the rationale behind stakeholders’ perceptions of forests ecosystem services. Our results indicate that despite individual heterogeneities in the perceived importance of ES, there was broad agreement that mixed beech-fir forests are superior for providing recreation, water retention, and biodiversity among the cultural, regulating, and supporting ES. Although a minority of stakeholders preferred fir forests to provide timber yield, mixed beech-fir forests are preferred by most of the stakeholders in the long term. This preference is mainly due to the higher adaptation capacity of mixed forests toward climate change impacts and higher flexibility to market demands. We conjecture that there may be public support to convert monospecific to mixed forests in the region of the Black Forest as an effective adaptation strategy for the sustainable supply of ES in the future.
climate change; ecosystem services; forest conversion; mixed forests; monospecific forests; stakeholders’ perceptions
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