Research Projects

Last changed: 01 April 2024

The Department both run and partake in several larger and smaller, national and international research projects. Below are some of our active projects.

Fair business development for Non-Timber Forest Products based on local knowledge.

Grant: 2,8 Mkr
Funder: FORMAS
Duration: 2023-2026
Projectmanagement: Anders Roos (SLU), Doris Mutta (African Forest Forum), Cecilia Mark-Herbert (SLU), Marie Louise Avana (AFF), Chemuku Wekesa (Kenya Forest Research Institute)
Tamarind web page
Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) provide food and income in combination with carbon storage and forest conservation. However, the market development of such species must be sustainable and benefit local producers.

The study analyzes sustainable business models for tree products in Kenya with a focus on Tamarindus indica, which yields nutritious fruits for food and beverages. The research comprises documentation of local knowledge, identification of factors for a sustainable and fair production, and elaboration of a sustainable business model for Tamarindus. The research applies theories of ethnobotany, tropical forest management, bio-based value chains, and sustainable, fair business models. It will beconducted in close dialogue and collaboration with local stakeholders. Gender issues will be key because womenare the most involved in NTFP activities. Participatory observations will be combined with interviews, surveys, andfocus group discussions. Our preliminary results are discussed with two reference groups, a scientific board and a group of local stakeholders.

Users: The findings will fill existing scientific knowledge gaps, and be applied for the sustainable development of Tamarindus value chains. They will help to identify opportunities for poverty reducing, sustainable business models for tree products.

Mistra Electrification

Grant: 60+ MSEK
Funder: MISTRA
Duration: 2021-2025
Projectleader: Filip Johnson, Chalmers
Mistra Electrification web

By 2045, Sweden should have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Major societal change is necessary to achieve this target, not least in the Swedish energy system. This energy challenge is complex, so requires interdisciplinary research with a system perspective that studies everything from technical solutions and industrial competition, to how to ensure a fair transition.

The programme objective involves technical, societal and economic methods and perspectives to increase the potential for an energy system in line with Sweden’s climate goal of net zero emissions by 2045. Technical results and conclusions will be balanced against political and societal feasibility.
Users  Case studies with the involved companies and other stakeholders will be an important part in ensuring that results can be applied and enjoy rapid uptake. Energiforsk is the programme host. Work is conducted in an interdisciplinary consortium with Chalmers University of Technology, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, the University of Exeter, Lund University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Svenska Kraftnät, Stockholm Exergi, Fortum, Nordion Energi, Göteborg Energi, Vattenfall, Hitachi Energy, Egain and Utilifeed, as well as other stakeholders, are also participating in the programme.

Critical spatial dimensions for climate-resilient Nordic forests

Funder: Nordic Forest Research (SamNordisk Skogsforskning)
Duration: 01-01-2023 to 31-12-2023
Research team: Francisco X. Aguilar (project manager), Dohun Kim (PhD student), co-investigators: Hanne Kathrine Sjølie (HINN, Norway) Aapo Rautiainen (Finnish Meterological Institute), Jette Bredahl Jacobsen (University of Copenhagen), Sebastian Glasenapp (Thünen Institute of Forestry, Germany), Silvia Korth (University of Misiones, Argentina)

Forest planning and policy can benefit from the identification of socio-ecological hotspots vulnerable to forest damages. Formal inclusion of spatial information and analyses in the adoption of management activities can reduce the vulnerability of Nordic forests to fire, flood, pests and pathogens. We strive to expand these applied research efforts to enhance forests climate resilience in other regions sharing similar conditions, risks and vulnerabilities.

Our SNS-sponsored network stems from existing collaborations forged through IUFRO Division 9, the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe’s Timber Section, and the International Boreal Forest Research Association. Among our activities, we will hold a workshop on spatial data analyses relevant to forest sector information at the 2023 meeting of the International Boreal Forest Research Association in Helsinki, and a working group of Ph.D. Students across participating Nordic institutions.

Users: Researchers, Ph.D. students, and other scholars interested in the application of spatial analysis when studying the forest sector.

Gender equality and climate resilience of West African cacao-dependent households

Funder: The Swedish Research Council (VR), Development program
Duration: 01-01-2023 to 31-12-2025
Research team: Francisco X. Aguilar (projektledare), co-investigators: Mavis Akuffobea-Essilfie (Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of Ghana), Elizabeth Obeng (Forest Research Institute of Ghana), Christophe Kouame (World Agroforestry Center), in cooperation with Charles King Jr. (Liberian Central Agricultural Research Institute), and Julie Weah, Foundation for Community Initiatives
Learn more about the project

Cacao farming plays critical socio-economic and ecological roles in West Africa supporting the livelihoods of millions of families. Cocoa is often deemed as a male-dominated crop and along its value chain. Gender disparities can exacerbate differences in how households and members within a household can cope with a changing climate.

The purpose of our research is to assess whether improvements in gender equality conditions support enhanced climate resilience of cacao farming-dependent households.

Users: International, national and local cocoa sector stakeholders, and policy-makers

Swedish forest resource value-chain: Today’s values tomorrow’s forests

Funder: The Tryggers Foundation
Duration: 01-01-2022 to 31-12-2025
Research team: Francisco X. Aguilar (Project leader), Ann-Kristin Bergquist (co-investigator), Hüseyin Çelik (researcher)

This project examines how different generations might have different expectations about how forestry is conducted, and the technology needed to support a sustainable bioeconomy

The project will generate publications evaluating different generational perceptions.

Users: Forest sector stakeholders, and policy-makers


Grant: € 5 241 423,75
Funder: H2020-EU
Duration: 1/06/2021 - 31/05/2024
One Forest web
Forest ecosystems cover 42 % of the European Union’s total land area and strong efforts have been made to facilitate an increase of multiple forest ecosystem services to form robust forest stands. However, all ecosystems recently have been hit by rapidly changing climatic conditions, e.g. long lasting droughts, heavy rain events, frequent and intensive storms, pests and forest fires. To address this within future silviculture management concepts, forest operations and wood supply, all stakeholders along the Forest Wood Value Chain will need to form a common idea of future forest management, while none of them can increase its benefit without harming another one.

The Multi-Criteria Decision Support System visualises decision-making by comparing Sustainable Forest Management, synergies and trade-offs of Forest Ecosystems, reliable wood supply, and stakeholder interests through FWVC indicators of social, economic, and environmental dimensions, by applying methods of Goal Programming. The easy-to-use software application will be available for Forest-Wood Value Chain stakeholders globally. All ONEforest results will be implemented in new Model Forests, being part of the International Model Forest Network for regional adapted forest management concept.

Users: Forest wood value chain stakeholders, Forestry sector, policymakers, forest owners


FutureArcticLives - Future Arctic livelihoods and biodiversity in a changing climate – workpackage 2

Funder: EU Biodiversa genom Formas
Duration: 2021-2024
Project manager: Martin Reinhardt Nielsen, University of Copenhagen
FutureArcticLives web
The overall objective of FutureArcticLives is to provide biological and economic forecasts and scenario assessments to assess in collaboration with local and indigenous people the impacts of climate and biodiversity change on the welfare and wellbeing of Arctic communities. FutureArcticLives will also explore management options under global policies and trends and in contexts of national policies increasingly favouring large-scale operations and other sectors constraining communities’ adaptation possibilities. The project is therefore, guided by the overall question - what are the likely future impacts and adaptation possibilities for small-scale primary resource users in Greenland and Arctic Scandinavia in the face of climate and biodiversity change? The project focus on traditional Inuit hunters and small-scale fishers in Greenland, Saami reindeer herders in northern Sweden and Norway and the coastal Saami in Norway, but in the context of broader interests and commercial operations.

In workpackage 2 we will: Assess the viability of Saami herder livelihood strategies and the risk of a collapse of reindeer pastoralism based on productivity forecasts.  Determine to what extent cultural and intrinsic values and income derived from reindeer husbandry are important to the modern Norwegian and Swedish reindeer herder household including as an adaptation strategy in the face of climate change. Determine how the Saami adapts to varying impacts of climate change on grazing across geographical areas. Conduct future scenario analysis and simulations to predict the impact of climate change and the proposed adaption strategies and compare welfare effects across different geographical areas.

Users: Decisionmakers in Sweden and Norway who handle reindeer husbandry, Saami organisations, other researchers

Round goby - turning risk into resource

Funder: Swedish EPA
Duration: 2021-2024
Project manager: Ann-Britt Florin, SLU Aqua
Introduction of alien species is a severe risk for biodiversity and ecosystem services, especially in aquatic ecosystems. The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is an invasive fish that spread by ships from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. It is a serious threat against native species due to its high reproductive capacity, ability to tolerate wide environmental conditions, and superior competitiveness compared to other bottom dwelling species. In 2008, the species was first reported in Sweden, in Karlskrona archipelago, and has since, invaded several coastal areas in Sweden and at least two freshwater systems. Negative effects are reported in the Great Lakes in North America and from Europe, but it is unclear what the effects will be in Sweden. Along with the increased spread of the species, the need for counteractive measures grows alarmingly. Our proposal will unite stakeholder needs and scientific practice to tackle the threat to ecosystem services caused by the invasive round goby. We aim to quantify the impact of round goby in Swedish waters and develop and test new methods to mitigate the negative effects. We focus partly on reducing dispersal into freshwater, which is of increasing risk due to the process of adapting Swedish hydropower to environmental law by constructing fishways, and partly on reducing population density (by a fishery or natural predators). We also investigate the potential for round goby commercial fishing. This work consists both of collating existing data and getting new knowledge through experiments and field studies. The goal is to develop cost efficient, realistic and ready to use management tools.

In the economic workpackage, we will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of managing Round goby populations in Sweden from the perspectives of improved recreational and commercial fishing, and opportunity costs of different management alternatives. The project will report interval estimates of the present value of the change in these socioeconomic benefits and costs for different stakeholders in the short and long term and for different scenarios. We will measure the benefits using the consumer surplus, the standard welfare measure in economic analysis. For recreational fishing, we will estimate this consumer surplus using the robust travel cost method. Benefits to commercial fishing will be measured using market prices. We will estimate the opportunity costs of different management alternatives. 

Users: Fisheries management agencies, sport fishing organizations, other researchers

Drylands Transform

Achieving the SDGs in East African drylands: Pathways and challenges towards a social-ecological transformation of landscapes, livestock and livelihoods (Drylands Transform)

Funder: Formas
Duration: 2020-2025
Project manager: Ingrid Öborn, SLU Ultuna
Drylands Transform web
Drylands – which include hyper-arid, arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas - cover about 40% of the Earth’s land surface (Safriel et al. 2005) and are expected to expand in the face of climate change (Huang et al. 2015). More than 2 billion people live in drylands, about 90% of them in low- and middle income countries (LMIC) (Safriel et al. 2005). Drylands also support about 50% of the world’s livestock which is a key source of food security and livelihoods for people in LMIC areas. Drylands are among the most vulnerable regions globally as they are faced by enduring political and economic marginalization, poverty, inequity, food and nutrition insecurity, land and ecosystem degradation, and frequent conflicts. In addition, these socio-ecological systems are very sensitive to climate and environmental change (IPCC 2019), and the formal as well as informal institutions that govern resource use and rights are often weak. At the same time, demand for food, especially milk and meat, is projected to double by 2050, and there is a largely untapped potential to increase dryland food production and productivity through diversification and sustainable intensification.

The overall and long-term goal of Drylands Transform is to contribute to knowledge and actions to realize the global sustainable development goals in East African drylands, which are one of the most vulnerable socio-ecological environments globally.The main objective is to investigate the interlinkage between land health, livestock-based livelihoods (migrating and non-migrating pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and farmers), human well-being (diet, health, gender equality), and land governance mechanisms (formal/informal, traditional/modern, regional/national/local). With these means, we will contribute with new knowledge for transformative change and sustainable development of socio-ecological systems in rural drylands of East Africa.The specific objectives (Obj) of Drylands Transform are to:

1. Assess land health at the landscape scale and explore the links with human well-being

2. Test options to restore rangelands (grazing areas) by engaging local communities, and develop platforms to share knowledge and scale livestock interventions that promote resilience and productivity (‘livestock cafés)

3. Understand the impact of climate variability on livelihood strategies and resilience.

4. Identify innovative land governance mechanisms and practices that effectively address pastoralist production system’s dependence on both flexible and secure rights to land.

5. Synthesize and scale-up key research findings in relation to Obj 1–4 through the design and evaluation of alternative scenarios for sustainable dryland transformation in East Africa in conjunction with dissemination and stakeholder communication.

Users: Decisionmakers in dryland regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, other researchers, aid organisations

When new product development doesn't add value – Causes, consequences and policy implications for Swedish Farmers

Duration: 2017-2019

Funder: Familjen Kamprads stiftelse (The Kamprad Family Foundation)

Project manager: Erik Hunter, (Institutionen för arbetsvetenskap, ekonomi och miljöpsykologi)  

Contact at the Department: Cecilia Mark-Herbert

Swedish food production is characterized by costs that are amongst the highest in the world due in part to expensive environmental, animal welfare, and labor friendly laws. This in combination with the opening of Swedish markets to EU competition and low entrance barriers for non-EU members has created conditions where Sweden is seen as a profitable dumping ground for low priced foreign food products. The inability for many Swedish producers to compete with actors on price who have an inherent cost of production advantage has created the need for many to rethink their value proposition. Our purpose therefore is to understand the causes and consequences of failure in innovative NPD (New Product Development) processes so that we can 1) mitigate its occurrence, 2) better advise and support those who attempt to innovate, and 3) assist those who have "failed" recover and re-enter the innovation process.

Landscape planning for Forest Biodiversity and Diverse Forestry

Duration: 2016-2018

Funder: Naturvårdsverket (Swedish EPA)

Project manager: Gabriel Michanek,, Uppsala University

Participant from the Department: Göran Bostedt,

According to a state report 2015, it will not be possible to meet the Swedish Environmental Objective "Sustainable Forests" with current or planned policy instruments. This is in part due to the lack of landscape strategies and environmental considerations in felling. Sweden is thus not capable to comply with international obligations to protect habitats according to e.g. the Habitats Directives. At the same time, timber production is essential, not least as biomass plays a significant role in the conversion of the energy system, which relates obligations according to the EU Renewables Directive.


The purpose of the project is to explore ecological and legal preconditions for spatial planning of forest landscapes in order to promote a more sustainable and diverse management of forests, aiming at stronger protection of biodiversity in some areas and intensive forestry in other areas. In a first study, an ecological model for landscape strategies and planning-simulation is used, developing scenarios that are used as the basis for a subsequent legal study on landscape forest planning. This study explores how such planning in France is regulated and applied. The study also analyses if adaptive planning (used e.g. in the EU Water Framework Directive) could be used in planning of forest landscapes. Finally, legal complications related to the implementation of forest planning are explored and discussed, for example legal consequences for property rights related to forest resources. In order to create a self-supporting system, where costs for conservation of biodiversity are more evenly distributed among land owners, the project will bring forward and discuss an economic regulation where tree felling is taxed and taxed means are allocated to those land owners who are disfavoured by the restrictions of the plan.