BIOCONSENT provides novel scientific knowledge and policy support by integrating socio-ecological approaches to assess outcomes of alternative conservation and restoration measures on forest biodiversity and ecosystem services provision across spatial and temporal scales at the biodiversity-forest-climate-water nexus.

Despite ambitious policy targets at the global and EU levels, biodiversity is under increasing threat. Decline of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems continue at an alarming rate, especially in forests that harbor 80 % of terrestrial biodiversity worldwide. Only 0,7 % of forests in Europe are in a primary condition; many primary and old growth forests lack effective protection and the majority of forest habitat and species in protected (Natura 2000) as well as managed forests are in a non-favorable conservation status. Enhanced conservation and restoration of forest habitats, species and functions are hence essential for biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services.

While strong positive and negative interdependencies exist between biodiversity, forestry, climate change and water management, effective biodiversity goal achievement presupposes cross-sectoral policy coherence and implementation across EU, national and local levels. Effective implementation also depends on supportive behavioral responses by forest owners and conservation managers who have to respond to multiple policy and socio-economic drivers forcing them to make tradeoffs under complexity, uncertainty and climate change. Previous research suggests that cross-sectoral goal conflicts and failures to understand behavioral responses constitute major barriers to achieving desired forest biodiversity outcomes.  


Against this background, BIOCONSENT aims to provide novel scientific knowledge and policy support by (i.) analysis of the (in)coherence of cross-sectoral policies, (ii.) assessment of forest users’ behavioral changes towards sustainable socio-ecosystems with improved biodiversity status, and (iii.) integration of biophysical, social, economic and governance drivers at the biodiversity-forest-climate-water nexus. The project uses an integrative socio-ecological approaches to assess and quantify outcomes of alternative conservation and restoration measures on forest biodiversity and ecosystem services provision across spatial and temporal scales. The main contribution is decision support through:

  1. better knowledge about tradeoffs and synergies between policy objectives and management practices,
  2. novel development and application of participatory foresight methods to explore behavioral responses promoting transformational change,
  3. agent-based modelling tools that assess and quantify synergies and trade-offs between forest conservation and restoration, and
  4. policy and management recommendations, and policy learning through dissemination of knowledge and good practices. 

BIOCONSENT is based on the main holistic hypothesis that effective forest biodiversity conservation and restoration require transformative change of socio-ecological systems at the biodiversity-forestry-climate-water-nexus. A nexus approach recognizes the interdependencies of different policy areas and integrates management and governance across sectors and scales and helps assess and address trade-offs and synergies between management outcomes and ecosystem services, including primary production, habitat provision, climate and water protection, and timber production.  

Project Partners:

University of Freiburg, Germany (Coordinator)

Luleå University of Technology (LTU-SE), Sweden
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden
European Forest Institute (EFI), Finland
University of Forestry Sofia (LTU-BG), Bulgaria
Fconsorci Centre de Ciencia i Technologia Forestal de Catalunya (CTFC), Spain
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria