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Impact of changing wood demand, climate and land use on European forest resources and carbon stocks during the 21st century

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We used the European Forest Information Scenario Model (EFISCEN) to project the development of forest resources for 15 European countries from 2000 to 2100 under a broad range of climate scenarios, which were based on the a1fi, a2, b1 and b2 storylines of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Each climate scenario was associated with consistent land-use change and wood demand assumptions. Climate change-induced growth changes were incorporated into the calculations by scaling inventory-based stem growth in EFISCEN by net primary productivity estimated from the Lund–Potsdam–Jena dynamic global vegetation model. The impact of changes in wood demand, climate and forest area were studied separately, and in combination, in order to assess their respective effects. For all climate scenarios under consideration, climate change resulted in increased forest growth, especially in Northern Europe. In Southern Europe, higher precipitation in spring and the projected increased water-use efficiency in response to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations mitigated the effects of increasing summer drought. Climate change enhanced carbon sequestration in tree biomass. The climate change-induced increase in tree growth led to a faster increase in growing stocks compared with the simulation using current climate. As productivity decreased in higher stocked forests, the positive impact of climate change began to level off during the second half of the 21st century in the scenarios where wood demand was low. Afforestation measures had the potential to increase growing stock and annual increment; however, large areas were needed to obtain notable effects. Despite noticeable differences in the growth response between the climate scenarios, changes in wood demand proved to be the crucial driving force in forest resource development. Tree carbon stocks increased by 33–114% between 2000 and 2100 when only changes in wood demand were regarded. Climate change added another 23–31% increase, while changes in forest area accounted for an additional increase of 2–40%. Our results highlight potential future pathways of forest resource development resulting from different scenarios of wood demand, land use and climate changes, and stress the importance of resource utilization in the European forest carbon balance.
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Keywords: EFISCEN; Europe; carbon budget; climate change; forest resources; land-use change; management; modelling; scenario analysis; wood demand

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: European Forest Institute, Torikatu 34, FIN-80100 Joensuu, Finland, 2: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), PO Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany, 3: Research Programme for Global Change, Finnish Environment Institute, PO Box 140, FIN-00251 Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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