Spatial overlap between environmental policy instruments and areas of high conservation value in forest
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonPLoS ONE 2014, 9(12) 10.1371/journal.pone.0115001
In order to safeguard biodiversity in forest we need to know how forest policy instruments work. Here we use a nationwide network of 9400 plots in productive forest to analyze to what extent large-scale policy instruments, individually and together, target forest of high conservation value in Norway. We studied both instruments working through direct regulation; Strict Protection and Landscape Protection, and instruments working through management planning and voluntary schemes of forest certification; Wilderness Area and Mountain Forest. As forest of high conservation value (HCV-forest) we considered the extent of 12 Biodiversity Habitats and the extent of Old-Age Forest. We found that 22% of productive forestarea contained Biodiversity Habitats. More than 70% of this area was not covered by any large-scale instruments. Mountain Forest covered 23%, while Strict Protection and Wilderness both covered 5% of the Biodiversity Habitat area. A total of 9% of productive forest area contained Old-Age Forest, and the relative coverage of the four instruments was similar as for Biodiversity Habitats. For all instruments, except Landscape Protection, the targeted areas contained significantly higher proportions of HCV-forest than areas not targeted by these instruments. Areas targeted by Strict Protection had higher proportions of HCV-forest than areas targeted by other instruments, except for areas targeted by Wilderness Area which showed similar proportions of Biodiversity Habitats. There was a substantial amount of spatial overlap between the policy tools, but no incremental conservation effect of overlapping instruments in terms of contributing to higher percentages of targeted HCV-forest. Our results reveal that although the current policy mix has an above average representation of forest of high conservation value, the targeting efficiency in terms of area overlap is limited. There is a need to improve forest conservation and a potential to cover this need by better targeting high conservation value areas.