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Exploring scenarios of forest diversification and ecosystem services impacts

Home research Exploring changes in ecosystem services under varying scenarios Exploring scenarios of forest diversification and ecosystem services impacts

This page describes our work carrying out research into the delivery of forest ecosystem services at the forest scale.


There is a sectoral requirement for quantifying the ecosystem services benefits (like timber, carbon sequestration, recreation and other social and cultural benefits) and their direction of change in response to land use and management decisions. At the same time, there is an increased realisation of the importance of being able to articulate and demonstrate what changes in the system (like additional planting, changing climate or changing management/planting decisions) may have on these benefits using scenarios. Results can inform forest planning, long term strategy development, policy makers.

Research objectives

To explore the impact of alternative management scenarios on ecosystem services.

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Where and when

We have used a modelling framework to simulate forest growth through time by dynamically coupling five Forest Research models. The simulation is spatially explicit, using best soil and climate variables.  The method is scalable, and has been tested at forest, region and national scale. To capture change over long periods the simulations run until the end of the century (which is the period we have climate data for), and we have also extended it into the middle of the next century to see how very long term trends play out for forests under long rotations of 100 years or more.

How much

The dynamically coupled modelling produces annual ecosystem services and other resilience indicators (including harvested wood products, standing carbon volume, recreation, biodiversity (deadwood), and a wind risk indicator). Values are accumulated for each decade and plotted over time. Forests are grown according to multiple scenarios and the results are visualised using a web app built in R Shiny (click here for Leanachan forest, Lochaber, Scotland).


We have used land management plan scenarios developed with a forest manager to test the effect of species diversification from Sitka spruce on timber yield and other benefits. Alternative management approaches can be applied to different primary objectives zones within the forest, and the sum of ecosystem services benefits are calculated and displayed for both baseline and future climates.  



Next steps

Extend the method to incorporate new forests in the landscape, to support delivery of policies and develop long term monitoring approaches which have the capability of testing policy scenarios on ecosystem services outcomes.

Exploring changes in ecosystem services under varying scenarios
In this section
Exploring changes in ecosystem services under varying scenarios
Research Status
Senior Forest Ecologist
Forestry Staff DuncanRay.33edde39.fill 600x600 1
Software Developer
Forestry Staff Bathgate Stephen 05.837e5442.fill 600x600 1
Funding & partners
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Forestry and Land Scotland

Related content


Exploring changes in ecosystem services under varying scenarios

Exploration of the resilience of woodlands to future change by assessing how ecosystem service values and natural capital stocks of woodlands may be affected by change through the application of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) scenarios and different management approaches, e.g. forest diversification through the application of forest management alternatives

Status current