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CR 73:17-29 (2017)  -  DOI:

Human-environment dynamics in European treeline ecosystems: a synthesis based on the DPSIR framework

A. P. Kyriazopoulos1, O. Skre2,*, S. Sarkki3, F. E. Wielgolaski4, E. M. Abraham5, A. Ficko6

1Department of Forestry and Management of the Environment and Natural Resources, Democritus University of Thrace, 193 Pantazidou str., 68200 Orestiada, Greece
2Skre Nature and Environment, Fanaflaten 4, 5244 Fana, Norway
3Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, PO Box 1000, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
4Department of Bioscience, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
5Laboratory of Range Science, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
6Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources, University of Ljubljana, Vecna pot 83, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
*Corresponding author: Advance View was available online May 18, 2017

ABSTRACT: The state of, and changes to, altitudinal and polar treeline ecosystems and their services in selected mountain regions in Europe were analyzed using the drivers-pressures-state-impacts-responses (DPSIR) framework. The analysis was based on 45 responses of experts from 19 countries to 2 semi-structured questionnaires on treeline ecosystem services (ESs), stakeholders and the DPSIR factors, and 11 case study descriptions of best management practices. The experts recognized climate and land-use changes as the main drivers, resulting in various pressures that contrasted among the regions. The impacts of the pressures were mainly considered as negative (e.g. loss of biodiversity, root rot diseases, moth and bark beetle outbreaks, wild fires, decrease of (sub)alpine grasslands, browsing), but also as positive (e.g. increase in forested area). The influence of climate warming, altered precipitation regimes, a longer growing season, annual variation in winter climate and increased ground-level ozone concentrations were considered less critical for recent treeline dynamics than land abandonment, increased tourism and livestock pressure. Current policy responses to emerging pressures and stakeholder demands were considered insufficient and incoherent. Mitigation, adaptation and restoration actions were rare and with no evident long-term impact. We conclude that (1) locally-specific human-environment interactions have greater influence on treeline dynamics than global warming; (2) ecological and social sustainability of the treeline areas can be enhanced by simultaneously promoting traditional land use and regulating tourism development; (3) ES users should look for new opportunities arising from environmental change rather than trying to sustain current levels of ESs indefinitely; and (4) to safeguard the unique ecological and social values of treeline areas, more coherent and proactive policies are needed.

KEY WORDS: Mountain forests · DPSIR framework · Climate change · Land-use change · Ecosystem services · Disturbances · Biodiversity

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Cite this article as: Kyriazopoulos AP, Skre O, Sarkki S, Wielgolaski FE, Abraham EM, Ficko A (2017) Human-environment dynamics in European treeline ecosystems: a synthesis based on the DPSIR framework. Clim Res 73:17-29.

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