Climate change vulnerability of sustainable forest management in the Eastern Alps

Rupert Seidl, Werner Rammer, Manfred J. Lexer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Considering climatic uncertainties in management planning is a prerequisite for sustainable forest management (SFM). The aim of the study was to evaluate climate change vulnerability of the current SFM strategy for commercial forests managed by the Austrian Federal Forests. To that end vulnerability indicators were defined in a stakeholder process (selected indicators were productivity, timber and carbon stocks, biodiversity, disturbances, a tree species' position in fundamental niche space, silvicultural flexibility and cost intensity) and their performance under climate change scenarios assessed with an ecosystem model. Multi criteria analysis techniques were employed in a partial aggregation of indicators to locate forest stands on a vulnerability surface. Results revealed high vulnerability particularly in the second half of the twenty-first century, where 39. 6% of the 164. 550 ha study area were assessed highly vulnerable to climate change, indicating a strong decline in the functions and services represented by the indicator system. Water-limited sites on calcareous bedrock were most negatively affected whereas assessment units at higher altitudes responded predominately positive to climate warming. The presented approach, transparently integrating multiple management objectives and allowing a quantitative comparison of vulnerabilities between sites and management strategies, contributes to the development of operational and efficient climate change adaptation measures in forest management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-254
Number of pages30
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


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