National Forest Inventories capture the multifunctionality of managed forests in Germany

Simons, Nadja K.; Felipe-Lucia, Maria R.; Schall, Peter; Ammer, Christian; Bauhus, Jürgen; Blüthgen, Nico; Boch, Steffen; Buscot, François; Fischer, Markus; Goldmann, Kezia; Gossner, Martin M.; Hänsel, Falk; Jung, Kirsten; Manning, Peter; Nauss, Thomas; Oelmann, Yvonne; Pena, Rodica; Polle, Andrea; Renner, Swen C.; Schloter, Michael; ... (2021). National Forest Inventories capture the multifunctionality of managed forests in Germany. Forest Ecosystems, 8(1) Springer Nature 10.1186/s40663-021-00280-5

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Forests perform various important ecosystem functions that contribute to ecosystem services. In many parts of the world, forest management has shifted from a focus on timber production to multi-purpose forestry, combining timber production with the supply of other forest ecosystem services. However, it is unclear which forest types provide which ecosystem services and to what extent forests primarily managed for timber already supply multiple ecosystem services. Based on a comprehensive dataset collected across 150 forest plots in three regions differing in management intensity and species composition, we develop models to predict the potential supply of 13 ecosystem services. We use those models to assess the level of multifunctionality of managed forests at the national level using national forest inventory data.

Looking at the potential supply of ecosystem services, we found trade-offs (e.g. between both bark beetle control or dung decomposition and both productivity or soil carbon stocks) as well as synergies (e.g. for temperature regulation, carbon storage and culturally interesting plants) across the 53 most dominant forest types in Germany. No single forest type provided all ecosystem services equally. Some ecosystem services showed comparable levels across forest types (e.g. decomposition or richness of saprotrophs), while others varied strongly, depending on forest structural attributes (e.g. phosphorous availability or cover of edible plants) or tree species composition (e.g. potential nitrification activity). Variability in potential supply of ecosystem services was only to a lesser extent driven by environmental conditions. However, the geographic variation in ecosystem function supply across Germany was closely linked with the distribution of main tree species.

Our results show that forest multifunctionality is limited to subsets of ecosystem services. The importance of tree species composition highlights that a lack of multifunctionality at the stand level can be compensated by managing forests at the landscape level, when stands of complementary forest types are combined. These results imply that multi-purpose forestry should be based on a variety of forest types requiring coordinated planning across larger spatial scales.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Felipe Lucia, Maria del Rosario; Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus and Manning, Peter


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Springer Nature




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

02 Feb 2021 14:59

Last Modified:

24 Feb 2021 09:29

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Ecosystem processes and services; Forest management; Structural diversity; Tree species composition; Trade-offs and synergies; Forest productivity




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