The application of forest management alternatives to the UK NEA scenarios to inform the delivery of ecosystem services

Authors and Affiliations: 

Darren Moseley and Mike Smith

Forest Research, Edinburgh, Scotland


Land use change has been one of the major influences on UK forests and wooded landscapes over the last 50 years, with the future likely to be affected through changes in climate, emerging pests and diseases and social and economic pressures. This poses forest planners and policy makers with a difficult task: how to make decisions that affect the future delivery of ecosystem services when faced by these unpredictable issues? One approach is to consider how a range of futures may unfold through scenario planning.

Examination of scenarios allows consideration of how different environmental, societal and economic factors could potentially affect our forests and what policy and management options are appropriate to address these changes. Woodland management may be considered within a typology of forest management alternatives (FMAs). This considers a continuum from non-intervention to intensive production forest management, as follows: (1) forest nature reserve, (2) close-to nature forestry, (3) combined objective forestry, (4) intensive even-aged forestry, and (5) wood biomass production (Edwards et al., 2011).

We apply the FMAs to the six scenarios produced by the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) to investigate how land use and the balance of forest management approaches required to deliver ecosystem services may change over a forest rotation (40 to 50 years). For example, in the scenario ‘Green and pleasant land’ there is an emphasis on restoring and protecting woodlands to enhance biodiversity, but also an increase in the recreational use of woodlands. To ensure our woodlands can deliver the ecosystem services to meet society’s future requirements under this scenario, forest planners would need to reduce the proportion of highly productive woodland and increase the proportions of woodland managed for multiple objectives and ‘close to nature’ forestry.

We provide an assessment and comparison of ecosystem service delivery for the five FMAs across each of the UK NEA scenarios at the strategic, tactical and operation scales. These outputs form part of a collaborative landscape scale approach with other research organisations in Scotland. This will provide an assessment of the future delivery of ecosystem services across all land use types and their associated land management alternatives.


Edwards, D., Jensen, F. S., Marzano, M., Mason, B., Pizzirani, S., & Schelhaas, M.-J. (2011). A theoretical framework to assess the impacts of forest management on the recreational value of European forests. Ecological Indicators, 11(1), 81–89. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2009.06.006