Multifunctional Landscapes and Ecosystem Services

Forest landscape restoration is likely to operate in a landscape with a mosaic of different land-uses, such as agriculture, forestry, grazing cattle, communities, and industrial areas, as well as areas important for ecological and cultural values. This is what we call a multifunctional landscape.

To meet the complex challenges that we are facing today, such as the effects of climate change or land degradation, it is necessary to consider the multiple functions of the landscape. The LoCoFoRest programme will address these functions, and possible ways of managing them in a new market system.

The various benefits for humans, provided by nature, are called ecosystem services (ES). They include direct services for humans, like the provision of food and wood, and indirect service values for ecosystem functionality, such as purifying water and soil formation. Trees are central for maintaining this functionality.

Multifunctional Mosaic Landscapes

The programme encourages restoration of “Multifunctional Mosaic Landscapes”, which host a combination of short- and long-term socio-economic values, as well as long-term protection and support for ES. In the programme we will put a strong emphasis on water-related ES. Another important ES from forest landscapes is biodiversity.

Forest landscapes with their multitude of plant-species, variety in densities, canopy heights and structures, harbor most of the world's terrestrial biodiversity (ecosystems, species, and genes). These ES are strongly linked to climate change and the ongoing changes in land use.

Restoration can affect water sources

The water cycle is local, regional, and global. Water users from source to sea depend on upland water-sources in forested hills. Deforestation in those hills may affect both local and remote rainfall, it can decrease groundwater availability, and cause faster runoff resulting in flooding downstream.

Bringing back forest to such a degraded location may indirectly benefit productivity and secure access to clean water. But trees also use large quantities of water and sometimes large-scale plantations can reduce the availability of water downstream. LoCoFoRest has a special focus on the connection between trees, forests, and water to understand how restoration can affect water sources in different ways.


Figure above. A multifunctional landscape need to contain a multitude of land-uses to support many needed ecosystem services. Soil and water management benefits from the amount of trees, but especially in semi-arid areas too much tree cover may use to much water. Likewise, for biobased products as well as for biodiversity local needs and biodiversity also need a mix of land-uses. Photo: Anders Malmer

  • Last Updated: 10/26/2022