Water, Forests, People: The Swedish Experience in Building Resilient Landscapes
Journal article, 2018

A growing world population and rapid expansion of cities increase the pressure on basic resources such as water, food and energy. To safeguard the provision of these resources, restoration and sustainable management of landscapes is pivotal, including sustainable forest and water management. Sustainable forest management includes forest conservation, restoration, forestry and agroforestry practices. Interlinkages between forests and water are fundamental to moderate water budgets, stabilize runoff, reduce erosion and improve biodiversity and water quality. Sweden has gained substantial experience in sustainable forest management in the past century. Through significant restoration efforts, a largely depleted Swedish forest has transformed into a well-managed production forest within a century, leading to sustainable economic growth through the provision of forest products. More recently, ecosystem services are also included in management decisions. Such a transformation depends on broad stakeholder dialog, combined with an enabling institutional and policy environment. Based on seminars and workshops with a wide range of key stakeholders managing Sweden’s forests and waters, this article draws lessons from the history of forest management in Sweden. These lessons are particularly relevant for countries in the Global South that currently experience similar challenges in forest and landscape management. The authors argue that an integrated landscape approach involving a broad array of sectors and stakeholders is needed to achieve sustainable forest and water management. Sustainable landscape management—integrating water, agriculture and forests—is imperative to achieving resilient socio-economic systems and landscapes.


Watershed management

Forest institutions

Sustainable forest management

Landscape restoration

Swedish forest history

Integrated landscape approach


Mats Eriksson

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Lotta Samuelson

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Linnéa Jägrud

Swedish Forest Agency

Eskil Mattsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Thorsten Celander

Swedish Forest Agency

Anders Malmer

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Klas Bengtsson

SSC Forestry

Olof Johansson


Nicolai Schaaf

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Ola Svending

Stora Enso AB

Anna Tengberg

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Environmental Management

0364-152X (ISSN) 1432-1009 (eISSN)

Vol. 62 1 45-57

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Landscape Architecture

Forest Science



More information

Latest update

7/4/2018 8