Interdisciplinary decision support tool for ditches across Sweden

Last changed: 07 November 2023

restorationOne million kilometers of ditches have been dug across Swedish forest land over the last 100 years to improve forest production. However, many of these are no longer desired because either they are not functional due to poor planning or climate change, or economic or environmental priorities have shifted (which can also be due to climate change). Therefore, this project will create a decision support tool to help decision-makers determine which path for managing ditches best fits their goals and situation: maintenance (ditch cleaning), active ecological restoration (ditch blocking), or passive restoration (left unmanaged). The tool will consist of modules focused on different optimization targets of interest to stakeholders, such as forest growth, biodiversity and biotic integrity, and greenhouse gas emissions. The modules will incorporate prior knowledge sourced from prior studies and expert knowledge on the causal web of how ditches impact the landscape. The prior information will combine with new data (from studies like those from the Trollberget experimental site, and nationally-available data like the National Forest Inventory) in a Bayesian workflow to generate estimates and effect sizes for how ditches impact Swedish forests. The decision support tool will incorporate user input on optimization goals and site characteristics, resulting in guidance on how to manage ditches in the user’s system.