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Trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services in uneven-aged mountain forests: evidences using Pareto fronts


Uneven-aged mountain forests are considered favourable for the continuous provisioning of multiple ecosystem services (ES). These ES may however exhibit trade-offs or synergies that can be modulated by forest management. Yet, our knowledge remains poor on both the relationships between ES and the way management practices can optimise and reconcile them. In this study, we aimed at (1) characterising trade-offs and synergies between timber production, biodiversity conservation and protection against natural hazards; (2) identifying efficient (i.e. Pareto-optimal) management scenarios for the joint provisioning of these ES; and (3) comparing them to “reference” management scenarios. Using a simulation framework that couples a forest dynamics model, a silviculture algorithm and linker functions relating ES indicators to stand structure, we predicted the response of different ES indicators to various uneven-aged management practices in the Western Alps. With a metamodeling approach and Pareto front techniques, we intensively explored and analysed relationships between ES indicators and found trade-offs between timber production and other ES, but synergies between protection and biodiversity. “Pareto-optimal” management scenarios were characterised by low thinning and harvesting intensities but exhibited gradients of total removals and deadwood and large tree retention along the Pareto front. They greatly differed from our set of production and biodiversity oriented reference scenarios, thus emphasising the strong impact of considering additional ES in scenario optimisation processes. This study highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of Pareto front techniques for both the analysis of trade-offs and synergies between ES and the identification of efficient management practices.

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We would like to thank Antoine Rolland for his introduction to the Pareto method and Bruno Bonté for its preliminary work with this technique. We are grateful to Clémentine Prieur and Robert Faivre for their methodological support for the development of the metamodels that we used in this study. We also thank all the people who helped improving the model by integrating biodiversity models, in particular François de Coligny and Frédéric Gosselin. Many thanks to Rebecca Snell for checking the language. Lastly, we would like to thank Manfred Lexer and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the European Research Project “Advanced multifunctional forest management in European mountain ranges” (ARANGE, No. 289437), as well as by two French Research Projects: ESNET, supported by FRB (Foundation for Research on Biodiversity) and funded by ONEMA (French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environment); and GeForHet (No. E23/2010), funded by the research programme “Biodiversity, Forest Management and Public Policy” (BGF). EMGR is part of Labex OSUG@2020 (ANR10 LABX56).

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Correspondence to Valentine Lafond.

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This article originates from the conference “Mountain Forest Management in a Changing World”, held 7–9 July 2015 in Smokovec, High Tatra Mountains, Slovakia.

Communicated by Manfred J. Lexer.

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Lafond, V., Cordonnier, T., Mao, Z. et al. Trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services in uneven-aged mountain forests: evidences using Pareto fronts. Eur J Forest Res 136, 997–1012 (2017).

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  • Timber production
  • Biodiversity
  • Protection
  • Natural hazards
  • Pareto frontiers
  • Samsara2
  • Silviculture
  • Forest management