Highlights: Scenario analysis and multiple criteria decision analysis were combined to evaluate alternative forest management strategies for Linköping municipality, Sweden; Continuous cover forestry (CCF) promoted ecological and social objectives better than even-aged forestry but was worse for economic objectives; Ecological and social objectives were important to the municipality and thus, in summary, CCF seemed to be a suitable strategy.
Forests are increasingly managed both to provide a sustainable yield of timber and for supplying a range of ecosystem services in line with the concept of sustainable forest management. Several incommensurable interests must then be considered, and it is necessary to strike a balance between different objectives. In evaluation of trade-offs to be made, both objective factors and subjective values need to be taken into account. In recent years, continuous cover forestry (CCF) has been put forward as an alternative to even-aged forestry. The aim of this study was to use scenario analysis in combination with multi criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to evaluate whether CCF is a suitable strategy based on the decision makers’ objectives and preferences for sustainable forest management in a specific landscape. This approach was applied to a planning case on the forest estate of the Linköping municipality in southwestern Sweden. The scenario analyses provided insights into relevant quantitative factors, while the MCDA evaluation helped in clarifying the objectives of the forest management and in assessing the relative importance of various objectives. The scenario analyses showed that in this case CCF is a good management strategy in ecological and social terms but yields worse economic outcomes than conventional even-aged forestry. In the Linköping case, there was a relatively strong emphasis on ecological and social aspects and thus, in summary, CCF seemed to be the most suitable option.