Trading wood for water and carbon in peatland forests? Rewetting is worth more than wood production
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Environmental Management. 2023, 341 . 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117952
While traditional forest management systems aim at maximizing timber production, sustainable forest management focuses on the multiple benefits of entire forest landscapes. The latter is now at the top of policy agendas. This calls for learning through evaluation to support the implementation of policies aiming towards multi-functional forest landscapes. The aim of this study is to quantify the economic trade-offs among natural, current, and re-wetted peatland forests using seven indicators, viz. drainage maintenance, rewetting, water retention, wood production, and three types of carbon sequestration as economic indicators. We discuss ways to adapt to and mitigate effect of forest draining on climate change toward securing multi-functional forest landscapes. The cost benefit analysis showed that in a potential natural state, Lithuania’s peatland forests would deliver an economic benefit of ~€176.1 million annually. In contrast, compared to natural peatland forests, the drainage of peatland forests for wood production has caused a loss of ~€309 million annually. In comparison, peatland forest rewetting is estimated to increase the economic value by ~€170 million annually. This study shows that satisfying different ecosystem services is a balancing act, and that a focus on wood production has resulted in net losses when foregone values of water storage and carbon sequestration are considered. Valuation of different sets of ecosystems service benefits and disservices must be assessed, and can be used as a tool towards creating, implementing and monitoring consequences of policies on both sustainability and biodiversity.