Our mission, our competence and our values

Last changed: 15 December 2017

Our mission is to advance the understanding of forest ecosystem processes and to progress the principles of forest ecosystem management

We want to explore the nature and the control of ecosystem processes in the forest landscape, including those of different forest types, wetlands, streams and lakes as well as the links between these systems. This fundamental understanding will enable us to design, monitor and evaluate the outcome of new ecosystem management approaches. Exploring the influence of silvicultural systems and forest management operations on the output of ecosystem services is an essential part of our mission and our studies therefore encompass both managed and unmanaged systems. We aim to deliver scientifically founded decision support and knowledge to the surrounding society. In addition to scientific communication; teaching undergraduate and graduate students and taking part in the public discourse are indispensable activities to maintain our role as knowledge providers. Our work involves an extensive collaborative network both locally and internationally. This enables us to integrate studies of biospheric interactions as well as the interactions between the biosphere, the pedosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere.

Subject areas

Silviculture – including silvicultural systems, forest management operations, forest growth and yield, with focus on the boreal and tropical region.

Forest soils – including plant-soil relations, geochemistry and pedology.

Forest landscape biogeochemistry – including the hydrology and biogeochemistry of forested watersheds and the speciation, mobility and bioavailability of trace metals.

Forest vegetation ecology – including interactions of plants with each other and with other biotic, abiotic and extrinsic disturbance factors.

Forest ecophysiology – including nitrogen nutrition of plants in general and of forestplants in particular and as well as its key role in boreal forest ecosystems.

Forest regeneration – including above- and belowground plant-soil interactions as drivers of carbon and nitrogen cycles as well as fundamental processes underlying forest regeneration in boreal forests.

Forest history – including human-ecosystem interactions in longer time perspectives. 

Research approach, methods and outreach

We want to understand the nature and controls of ecosystem processes in terrestrial and aquatic systems of the forest landscape. A significant part of our research addresses the scientific understanding of ecological and societal issues by a combination of state-of-the-art analytical methods, laboratory experiments and small to large-scale field studies, including access to unique long-term field experiments. Our research activities encompass the full spectrum from the molecular to landscape level approaches. This includes spectroscopic methods and the use of isotopic signatures, e.g. C, N and Hg, as well as plot-scale soil and vegetation surveys, eddy-covariance measurements, weir networks, and long-term forest history, mensuration, experimental and monitoring data. Our work involves an extensive collaborative network both locally and abroad. Much of our research is interdisciplinary, and we actively collaborate with e.g. archaeologists, historians, social and medical sciences. This interdisciplinary dimension is apparent through outputs from this work being published widely not only in leading scientific journals in our field in popular reports and journals. The societal benefits of our work span the full spectrum from general (e.g., informing on for example ecological impact of global change) to specific (i.e., serving needs of specific stakeholders). One very important part of our research is to teach undergraduate and graduate students. Teaching in classrooms, in labs and in the field is also a two-way process which helps us as researchers to formulate and express our ideas.

Future research directions

Our overarching goal is to strengthen our position as a leading research institution within our competence areas and to make significant contributions within our scientific disciplines as well as to society. Specific future research directions include the further development and deeper understanding of: i) silvicultural systems and forest management operations, ii) integration of ecosystem ecology, forest history and human impacts, and iii) biogeochemical processes involving nutrients and contaminants in forest ecosystems. Thus, future work will focus on exploring the interface between ecosystem functioning and human impacts-focused interests, as well as the links and feedbacks among traits, processes and global change phenomena in boreal and tropical forest, mire and subarctic tundra ecosystems.

Core values at the department

The purpose of the values presented here is to give us a framework for how we work and interact with each other. We hope these core values will ensure a professional and enjoyable work atmosphere at our department.


  • We listen to each other.
  • Everybody is treated fairly and has an equal opportunity to contribute.
  • We make sure that non-Swedish speakers are included in social and professional situations, including e-mail communications.
  • We consider the impact of our actions on colleagues, collaborators, students as well as clients.


  • We recognize each other’s contributions and efforts, and give both positive and constructive feed-back.
  • Remember that a thank you and a smile go a long way.


  • We work along the common goal of ensuring the visibility and recognition of our department as a center of excellence within forestry.
  • We have open discussions across all disciplines and respect each other’s different points of views.
  • We collaborate.
  • We keep deadlines.


Postal address

SLU, Skogens ekologi och skötsel, 901 83 Umeå, Sweden

Visiting address

Skogsmarksgränd 17, Umeå


seksko@slu.se; webmaster@seksko.slu.se


+46-90-786 8163


Page editor: gustaf.egnell@slu.se