Using blue infrastructure to lead the way to a better forested green infrastructure

Last changed: 15 December 2023
Beech forest stream with a protected riparian area.

Sweden has about one million kilometers of small waterways, capable of providing habitats for great biodiversity - if they are adequately protected. This project aims to examine the benefits of, and guidelines behind the protection of riparian zones, to better practice these principles in Swedish forests.

The sustainable management of riparian forest cover along Sweden’s small waterways is instrumental to the protection of water quality and biodiversity while also creating value to society. The country has some 1 million km of small waterways with no, or very narrow riparian buffers (< 5 m wide) often dominated by single-story spruce that are ill-suited to provide intended protection. Implementing principles of continuous cover forestry  (CCF) in wide buffers all waterways – even the smallest ones - would increase the ecological functioning and societal value of the forests and streams that depend on them by transitioning them to a multi-species, multi-storied forest.

Our project aims to identify socially acceptable riparian forest management alternatives such as the widening of CCF managed buffers toward richer biodiversity and enhanced water quality. We will investigate the expected impact of this blue-green infrastructure on the areal extent of productive forests, biodiversity, and water quality. We will identify what policy barriers can inhibit, and goal conflicts might be created, by adoption of CCF.

To overcome potential challenges, we will evaluate opportunities for providing financial incentives to implement a voluntary-based framework of riparian forestry. We also evaluate trade-offs in terms of perceived impacts amongst forest owners and managers, and the distribution of the financial costs and environmental benefits among different interest groups.


Projekt title: BLUE LEADS GREEN

Financial backers: Formas, Future Forests, Kempestiftelserna