Assessing costs of multifunctional NATURA 2000 management restrictions in continuous cover beech forest management

Programmes for forest habitat protection and some certification schemes restrict forest owners choice of regeneration methods, even in continuous-cover systems such as the use of the shelterwood system in beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests in Denmark. The aim of this study is to reduce environmental pressure on e.g. groundwater or to protect species dependent on deadwood or undisturbed soils, which is beneficial/important from a welfare economic perspective. Such restrictions come at a cost to both the forest owner and society. Using a case study approach, we investigate the possible financial losses from placing such restrictions on current shelterwood beech management practices. A part of the restrictions implies lower input, intensity and costs in regeneration activities, but this is outweighed by potential future losses arising from incomplete regeneration and prolonged regeneration phases. The cost in terms of present value reductions of a mature stand may be up to 10 per cent (with an interest rate of 3 per cent) but in many cases is much less. Another set of restrictions implies leaving single trees for natural aging and decay, and we estimate the costs of such measures too.