DIGSSCORE Tuesday seminar

Xiaozi Liu: Informing socially sustainable afforestation strategies to mitigate climate change

Picture of Xiaozi Liu

Xiaozi Liu, Postdoctoral fellow at NORCE, will present today.


About one-fifth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relate to forests and one fourth of the world forests are planted in boreal regions. Afforestation can thus make a potentially large contribution to climate change mitigation. Inspired by this fact, the Norwegian government has decided to plant forest on abandoned lands, thus also improving the country’s overall GHG emission balance. At the same time, planted forests have met with resistance in Norway due to historical experience with afforestation efforts that emphasized economic benefit over other socio-ecological benefits. The goal of this paper is to present and analyze public preferences on the proposed climate afforestation strategies to assist sound national climate policy design.

We ask respondents in a probability-sample population survey to choose their favorite landscape photos in three randomized pairs of photos. Each respondent faces six landscape alternatives: grassland, heathland, old mixed forest, young mixed forest and young planted forest, and they have the option to comment on their specific choices. We found that heathland, grassland and old mixed are the most preferred landscapes, but differences among the three are statistically insignificant. Among the remaining landscapes, Norwegians prefer old planted forest to young mixed and young planted forest is the least favored forest. We also found strong regional and gender effects. For example, the likelihood that a respondent from Western Norway dislikes a planted forest type is higher than that for a respondent from Eastern Norway, a difference that is likely due to different levels of familiarity with especially spruce forests. Our experimental and textual data together suggest that climate effective solutions may clash with traditional socio-cultural values – and failure to account for such differences may in turn undermine efforts to combat climate change. This paper suggests a number of socio-cultural preferences that we recommend taking into account to produce a politically and socially sustainable climate policy.


Lunch is served at first come, first served basis.