As human impact on the planet is rapidly increasing, forest governance and management more than ever face the difficult task of combining a multitude of different needs and objectives. This requires a more detailed understanding of how different functions are related to each other, and how trade-offs and synergies are generated.
Conceptualizing forests as complex adaptive systems contributes to a bottom-up understanding of multifunctionality and, consequently, ecosystem service relationships. This understanding is required for novel management approaches that not only acknowledge but also take advantage of the inherent complexity of forested landscapes. More specifically, it allows interventions that not only respond to ecosystem service trade-offs and synergies present wihin a landscape, but that actively shape the relationships between services and influence the composition of ecosystem service bundles. In addition, a complex adaptive systems perspective on multifunctionality explicitly takes into account uncertainty as an inherent property of forests. This further integrates with management approaches that explore a range of possible future scenarios, and that account for imperfect knowledge about a forest system's current state and its direction of change.
Two multiple-use forests in Québec and Panama will serve as case studies to model social-ecological interactions. Bayesian networks will be used as a modelling tool to include available qualitative and quantitative data, as well as expert and stakeholder knowledge.