Models for forest ecosystem management: A European perspective

H. Pretzsch, R. Grote, B. Reineking, Th Rötzer, St Seifert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


• Background: Forest management in Europe is committed to sustainability. In the face of climate change and accompanying risks, however, planning in order to achieve this aim becomes increasingly challenging, underlining the need for new and innovative methods. Models potentially integrate a wide range of system knowledge and present scenarios of variables important for any management decision. In the past, however, model development has mainly focused on specific purposes whereas today we are increasingly aware of the need for the whole range of information that can be provided by models. It is therefore assumed helpful to review the various approaches that are available for specific tasks and to discuss how they can be used for future management strategies. • Scope: Here we develop a concept for the role of models in forest ecosystem management based on historical analyses. Five paradigms of forest management are identified: (1) multiple uses, (2) dominant use, (3) environmentally sensitive multiple uses, (4) full ecosystem approach and (5) eco-regional perspective. An overview of model approaches is given that is dedicated to this purpose and to developments of different kinds of approaches. It is discussed how these models can contribute to goal setting, decision support and development of guidelines for forestry operations. Furthermore, it is shown how scenario analysis, including stand and landscape visualization, can be used to depict alternatives, make long-term consequences of different options transparent, and ease participation of different stakeholder groups and education. • Conclusions: In our opinion, the current challenge of forest ecosystem management in Europe is to integrate system knowledge from different temporal and spatial scales and from various disciplines. For this purpose, using a set of models with different focus that can be selected from a kind of toolbox according to particular needs is more promising than developing one overarching model, covering ecological, production and landscape issues equally well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1087
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Decision support in Europe
  • Ecosystem management
  • Management paradigms
  • Models
  • Scaling
  • Scenario generation
  • Spatial and temporal scales
  • Sustainability
  • Visualization


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