Climate change adaptation in Swedish forestry. A historical overview 1990-2010

Submitted by Åsa Gerger Swartling | published 14th Aug 2013 | last updated 17th Mar 2020

Cover photo: “Traces of Gudrun” © urbanlegend/flickr


This report explores how climate change adaptation concerns were integrated into the Swedish forestry discourse in the period 1990–2010. The paper applies a governance perspective, using discourse analysis focused on actors’ beliefs and learning to identify the following: how the forestry discourse evolved, the main adaptation advocates and critics, how other dominant discourses, debates and external events influenced the discourse, the effect this had on forestry policy and the lessons that might be learned for future policymaking.

The study shows that academics advocating climate change adaptation, together with outside influences such as political pressure for adaptation responses and the negative effects of storm Gudrun in 2005, contributed to an increased general awareness and understanding of adaptation issues in the forestry sector. Nonetheless, the influence of adaptation advocates was fairly weak, and the influence of advocates for mitigation and forest production dominated the forestry discourse. This fact has hindered the integration of adaptation into forestry policy, although there have been recent advances in integrating and legitimizing adaptation issues in the sector.

Two lessons for policymakers willing to further this integration process are the importance of clear leadership and the importance of creating arenas to enable learning about adaptation among stakeholders.

Authors: Johanna Ulmanen, Åsa Gerger Swartling and Oskar Wallgren

The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Swedish Foundation for Environmental Research (Mistra) through the Swedish Research Programme on Climate, Impacts and Adaptation (Mistra-SWECIA) Programme.

Suggested citation

Ulmanen, J., Swartling, G. Å., Wallgren, O. 2012. Climate Change Adaptation in Swedish Forestry Policy, A Historical Overview 1990-2010. Stockholm Environment Institute. Project Report.