Mapping policies for surface water protection zones on forest land in the Nordic–Baltic region: Large differences in prescriptiveness and zone width

Eva Ring*, Johanna Johansson, Camilla Sandström, Brynhildur Bjarnadóttir, Leena Finér, Zane Lībiete, Elve Lode, Inge Stupak, Magne Sætersdal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The forest landscape across the Nordic and Baltic regions hosts numerous lakes and watercourses, which must be included in forest management. In this study, national policy designs regarding protection zones for surface waters on forest land were reviewed and compared for the Nordic countries, Estonia and Latvia. The focus was how each country regulates protection zones, whether they are voluntary or mandatory, and the rationale behind adopting a low or high degree of prescriptiveness. Iceland and Denmark had a low degree of policy prescriptiveness, whereas Norway, Estonia and Latvia had a high degree of prescriptiveness. Sweden and Finland relied to a large extent on voluntary commitments. The prescribed zone widths within the region ranged from 1 m to 5 km. The results indicated that land-use distribution, forest ownership structure and historical and political legacies have influenced the varying degrees of prescriptiveness in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-893
Number of pages16
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The requirements for PZs for surface waters were reviewed for Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia and Latvia, including rules for zone width, forest management (including off-road transportation, ditching, fertilisation, selective felling, clearcutting and soil scarification) and economic compensation to forest owners for income lost due to such restrictions. The requirements for PZs related to the use of pesticides were not reviewed. Each topic was reviewed in national legislation, national forest certification standards issued by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the national schemes endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) and selected published guidelines (Table ). Both the FSC and PEFC certification standards stipulate that forest management must comply with applicable national legislation (PEFC ; FSC ). Although the countries selected represent a relatively narrow geographical region, they cover a wide range of forest areas, forest ownership structures, and socio-economic and historic backgrounds (Table ). The study was facilitated by the CAR-ES network of Nordic–Baltic scientists ( ), funded by the Nordic Forest Research Co-operation Committee under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM). NCM aims at strengthening the Nordic and regional interests and values in a global world (NCM ), and comparative analysis of national policies may contribute to identifying such common interests and values. Scientists from this network provided the detailed knowledge on national conditions and the diverse language skills required for the study.

Funding Information:
This study was made possible by the network Centre of Advanced Research on Environmental Services from Nordic Forest Ecosystems (CAR-ES), which was funded by the Nordic Forest Research Co-operation Committee (SNS). Eva Ring, Johanna Johansson and Camilla Sandström gratefully acknowledge funding from the interdisciplinary research programme Future Forests financed by MISTRA (The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research), the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Umeå University. Zane Lībiete acknowledges funding from the Latvian Forest Sector Competence Centre project “Methods and technologies to increase forest value” (L-KC-11-0004). Magne Sætersdal acknowledges funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Food and Agriculture. We would also like to thank the Estonian Environmental Agency, Ministry of Environment and State Forest Management Centre (particularly K. Kohv) for providing valuable information about Estonia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Other keywords

  • Buffer
  • Certification
  • Forestry
  • Guidelines
  • Legislation
  • Riparian


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