Trade‐offs in forests


Various sustainability oriented economic sectors are competing for scarcer land, which increases the pressure on forests. From the forest perspective we want to systematically describe conflicting objectives between various sectors of a sustainable economy and propose solutions.

Project description (ongoing research project)

In a first step, we will examine conflicts of interest between various sectors of a sustainable economy from the perspective of the forest sector, and analyse the factors explaining forest clearing. We will then collect information at the regional level in order to describe legal frameworks and uncover existing conflicts of interest. Subsequently, we will develop solutions for selected case studies to overcome conflicts of interest by preparing combinations of political instruments and assessing their acceptance via surveys. Finally, we will use simulation models to visualise the consequences of these potential solutions for land use in the case study regions and discuss these with the involved players.


In the agglomerations of the Swiss Central Plateau, forest areas are increasingly in competition with other sectors of a sustainable economy (e.g. renewable energies), so that the conversion of forest areas is increasingly being considered. At the same time, greater use of wood is required in regional value chains. All of this can lead to adverse effects on the availability of other socially desirable ecosystem services in forests.


The aim of this project is to systematically identify and classify conflicts of interest arising from the growth of sustainable economic sectors. We want to evaluate the causes of forest clearing and describe under which circumstances or in which areas the above-mentioned conflicts of interest are most likely to occur. In the case study regions we aim to show how a combination of various political instruments can resolve conflicts of interest and thus contribute towards an optimal solution.


The project outlines possible conflicts of interest that may inevitably arise when promoting a sustainable economy, and systematises them so that the responsible players can better take them into account. Furthermore, the feasibility of proposals for solutions is evaluated in case study regions. This project therefore contributes towards the “Sustainable Development Goals”, in particular nos. 15 (life on land, especially 15.2), 16 (peace and justice strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the goals).

Original title

Analyzing TRade-offs in forests between sustainable Economy and Environmental objectives (ATREE)

Project leaders

Project leaders

  • Dr. Tobias Schulz, Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL
  • Dr. Astrid Zabel von Felten, Hochschule für Agrar- Forst- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften (HAFL), Berner Fachhochschule
  • Dr. Eva Lieberherr, Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften, ETH Zürich

Project partners

  • ​Pan Bern AG



Further information on this content



Dr. Tobias Schulz Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL Zürcherstrasse 111 8903 Birmensdorf +41 44 739 24 77