Modelling adaptation strategies for Swedish forestry under climate and global change
Blanco González, Víctor
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Adaptation is necessary to cope with, or take advantage of, the effects of climate change on socio-ecological systems. This is especially important in the forestry sector, which is sensitive to the ecological and economic impacts of climate change, and where the adaptive decisions of owners play out over long periods of time. These decisions are subject to experienced and expected impacts, and depend upon the temporal interactions of a range of individual and institutional actors. Knowledge of, and responses to, climate change are therefore very important if forestry is to cope with, or take advantage of, the effects of climate change over longer timescales. It is important to understand the role of human behaviour and decision-making processes in the study of complex socio-ecological systems and modelling is a method that can support experiments to advance this understanding. This study is based on the development of CRAFTY-Sweden; an agent-based model that allows the exploration of Swedish land-use dynamics and adaptation to climate change through scenario analysis. In CRAFTY-Sweden, forest and farmland owners make land use and management decisions according to their objectives, management preferences and capabilities. As a result of their management and location characteristics they are able to provide ecosystem services. To explore future change, quantitative scenarios were used that considered both socio-economic development pathways and climatic change. Simulations were run under the different scenarios for the period 2010-2100, for the whole of Sweden. Furthermore, because institutions (i.e. organisations) also influence socio-ecological systems through their actions and interactions between them and with land owners and the environment, a conceptual model of institutional actions applied to socio-ecological systems was developed. The application of this conceptual model was explored through a model of institutions that can act, interact and adapt to environmental change in attempting to affect ecosystem service provision within a simple forestry governance system. I found that forestry in the future will likely be unable to meet societal demands for forest services solely on the basis of autonomous adaptation. A northward expansion of agriculture and especially of forestry proved positive for both sectors to adapt to changing conditions, under several scenarios, given the substantial land availability and the improved environmental conditions for plant growth. Legacy effects of past land-use change can have a great impact on future land-use change and adaptation processes, especially in forestry. Also, greater competition for land may lead to shorter forest rotation times. Socio-economic change and land owner behavioural differences may have a larger impact on owner competitiveness, land-use change and ecosystem service provision than climate-driven changes in land productivity. Different owner objectives and behaviour resulted in different levels of ecosystem service provision. Also, particular forest types were differently suitable for adaptation depending on the sets of objectives under which they were managed. Owners implementing particular management strategies can be differently competitive under different future scenarios, and the suitability of such strategies for adaptation is not a static, inherent characteristic of a system. Instead, it evolves in response to changing contexts that include both the external global change drivers and the internal dynamics of agent interactions. Additionally, institutional conceptual models as presented here can support better understanding of the key institutional decision-making dynamics and their consequences, endogenously, flexibly across different socio-ecological systems. Finally, study limitations, future research and the policy relevance of findings are discussed.