Technical Function Unit: Strategic planning
Geographic Area: Sweden


The increase in demand for forest products in recent years poses great challenges to assuring sustainable development, as both forestry and regional development are important factors which need to be considered. In this aspect, it is vital to assess what sustainability impacts a change in forestry and the forest industry will lead to - but the complexity of such an assessment can often be an obstacle. 

To facilitate the evaluation process, the Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment (ToSIA) has been developed by a consortium of 38 organizations in 21 countries, within the EFORWOOD project. It is a computer-based strategic planning tool for decision support in assessing sustainable alternatives for development in the forest-based (and related) sectors. A sustainable development is characterized by a balanced sustainability in its three main elements: environment, economy and social aspects. The status of these elements can be measured through a number of indicators, and the tool provides information on how changes within the forestry sector affect these. Typical indicators are employment, biodiversity, waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions.

The tool can assess different, user-defined modules that cover the whole value chain for forest landscapes and non-wood and wood products, from the forest via consumption to the end-of-life for the final wood product. The structure and flexibility of the tool allows the user to assess parts of the value chain or some of the defined sustainability indicators. The analysis can be applied on a local, regional or EU level. Indicator values for a chosen process chain (baseline and scenarios) are calculated, the different options are evaluated and the results are presented in a graphic form of a sustainability impact comparison. The comparison of scenarios is facilitated through a number of linked-in result evaluation tools such as multi-criteria analysis, cost-benefit analysis and policy analysis. This provides useful information for decision-making within industry, to policy makers and to other stakeholders within forest and wood chain management.

The four-year project ended in 2009 and was funded under the EU “Global Change and Ecosystems” research activity of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), a grant funding programme. There is a demo version of the tool available at the project website, and a number of case studies that have been performed. Through a follow-up project, the tool has been further developed into a version 2.0 which has been applied in different settings in a number of pilot countries. All in all, it has been tested in eight different case studies at different scales: Scandinavia, Iberia, Baden-Württemberg and on an EU level within the EFORWOOD project, and regional case studies in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Scotland within a later, following project focusing on the northern part of Europe. The further application and further development of the tool is organized by an international and committed group of users who are gathered in a constellation called TMUG.  The group is open for interested institutions to join. Members of that group obtain access to the tool, the databases, documentation, the user network and the server space.  The program is open-source and is now ready for use, but requires input and analysing experience from the user. Thus, the Technology Readiness Level reaches a level 9 on the TRL scale.

The tool was initially developed to assess the impact of strategic changes such as decisions, or changes brought by external factors such as climate change. However, the forest sector is not the only application area. It has also been used for cross-sectorial assessment of reindeer husbandry and wood production, showing how different activities in one sector also can influence the performance of another. Future cross-sectorial applications may include global agricultural and forest-based biomass supply chains, land use competition or interactions between forestry, nature conservation and tourism.