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High rates of short-term dynamics of forest ecosystem services


Currently, the main tools for assessing and managing ecosystem services at large scales are maps providing snapshots of their potential supply. However, many ecosystems change over short timescales; thus, such maps soon become inaccurate. Here we show high rates of short-term dynamics of three key forest ecosystem services: wood production, bilberry production and topsoil carbon storage. Almost 85% of the coldspots and 65% of the hotspots for these services had changed into a different state over a ten-year period. Wood production showed higher rates of short-term dynamics than bilberry production and carbon storage. The high rates of dynamics mean that static snapshot ecosystem service maps provide limited information for assessing and managing multifunctional, dynamic landscapes, such as forests. We advocate that dynamic, spatially explicit tools to assess and manage ecosystem service dynamics be further developed and applied in post-2020 biodiversity and ecosystem service policy supporting frameworks.

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Fig. 1: Rates of short-term dynamics of single forest ES shown as probabilities of sites changing between categories over a ten-year period.
Fig. 2: Rates of short-term dynamics of single forest ES for different forest age classes.
Fig. 3: Changes in single ES and hot- and coldspots through forest succession.
Fig. 4: Joint short-term dynamics of combined ES quantified as the probabilities of sites changing to another category over a ten-year period.

Data availability

The data used for this study are archived and openly available from the University of Jyväskylä Dataverse Network (

Code availability

The code used to analyse the data and produce the figures is available from the corresponding author upon request.


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The study originated in a pilot MAES project (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services) funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to T.S., J.B. and J.M. The grant also funded L.M. The study was also supported by the ERA-Net Sumforest project FutureBioEcon/Formas 2016–2109 (coordinated by T.S.). M.T. was supported by the Kone Foundation and by the FutureBioEcon project and further thanks members of the BERG group ( for useful discussion, especially M. Potterf and R. Duflot.

Author information




T.S. conceived and obtained financial support for the study and discussed the design with J.B., J.M. and L.M.; M.T., L.M. and T.S. analysed the data; M.T. designed and produced the figures with the input of all authors; T.S. and M.T. wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors interpreted the results and provided input on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Tord Snäll or María Triviño.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Sustainability thanks James Bullock, María Felipe-Lucia, Annika Kangas and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Supplementary Tables 1–17, Results 1–3 and Figs. 1–5.

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Snäll, T., Triviño, M., Mair, L. et al. High rates of short-term dynamics of forest ecosystem services. Nat Sustain 4, 951–957 (2021).

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