, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 185–195 | Cite as

Reviving wood-pastures for biodiversity and people: A case study from western Estonia

  • Marlene Roellig
  • Laura M. E. Sutcliffe
  • Marek Sammul
  • Henrik von Wehrden
  • Jens Newig
  • Joern Fischer


Wood-pastures are associated with high cultural and biodiversity values in Europe. However, due to their relatively low productivity, large areas of wood-pastures have been lost over the last century. In some areas, incentive schemes have been developed to revive wood-pastures. We investigated the effects of one such scheme in western Estonia. We compared the structure of grazed wood-pastures (old and restored) to those of abandoned wood-pastures and ungrazed forest stands to explore the effects of management, and conducted interviews with 24 farmers to investigate their motivations to carry out the management. We found a positive influence of active management on the semi-open structure of wood-pastures. Financial support was vital for management, but personal values related to tradition also played an important role. The interviewees differed widely in their range of motivations, suggesting that other strategies in addition to financial incentives would further improve the management of wood-pastures in the region.


Social–ecological systems Agri-environment schemes Silvopastoral systems Semi-natural habitats Farmer motivations Agroforestry Restoration 



We would like to thank all the farmers who participated in the interviews and gave us permission to enter the pastures. Furthermore, we are grateful for the support by the Estonian Environmental Board, namely Tõnu Talvi, Annely Esko, and Piret Sepp. We would like to thank Silja Kana and Kaire Lanno for helping with logistics, and Raigo Rückenberg for his help in the field. Lastly, we thank the anonymous reviewers for constructive suggestions on a previous draft of this manuscript. The project was funded by Leuphana University and the ESF’s Doctoral Studies and Internationalisation Programme DoRa, and a grant no IUT34-7 from the Estonian Research Council.

Supplementary material

13280_2015_719_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (242 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 242 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlene Roellig
    • 1
  • Laura M. E. Sutcliffe
    • 2
  • Marek Sammul
    • 3
  • Henrik von Wehrden
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jens Newig
    • 6
  • Joern Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Sustainability, Institute of EcologyLeuphana University LueneburgLueneburgGermany
  2. 2.Plant Ecology and Ecosystem ResearchGeorg-August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Chair of Natural Resources, Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesTartu UniversityTartuEstonia
  4. 4.Center for MethodsLeuphana University LueneburgLueneburgGermany
  5. 5.Research Institute of Wildlife EcologyViennaAustria
  6. 6.Research Group Governance, Participation and Sustainability, Faculty of SustainabilityLeuphana University LueneburgLueneburgGermany

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