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Effects of increased forest productivity and warmer climates on carbon sequestration, run-off water quality and accumulation of dead wood in a boreal landscape: A modelling study

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Forest productivity is expected to increase in the future owing to the use of genetically improved plant material and climate warming. Increased productivity will lead to shorter optimum rotation lengths and larger annual clear-cut areas. This study explored the likely effects of increased forest production and a warmer climate in 15 scenarios (five productivity levels and three climate conditions) on: (1) wood production, (2) carbon sequestration, (3) water quality, and (4) amounts of coarse woody debris (CWD). The effects were simulated using a set of ecosystem models incorporating the same climate and management scenarios in a hypothetical managed boreal forest landscape. Under the assumption that increased productivity is coupled to a proportional decrease in rotation length, the outputs at the landscape-level scale were briefly as follows. In each simulated climate scenario, increased productivity resulted in increases in above- and below-ground carbon sequestration, and reduced CWD accumulation, but did not have significant effects on dissolved total nitrogen (DTN) loads in run-off water. In addition, at every simulated productivity level, a warmer climate led to reductions in carbon sequestration below ground and amounts of CWD, but increases in DTN contents in run-off water. Reasons for these trends are identified and explained.
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Keywords: Biodiversity; decomposition; ecosystem services; hydrology; multifunctional forestry; nitrogen; optimum rotation length; soil organic matter

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), Uppsala, Sweden 2: Finnish Forest Research Institute, Joensuu Research Unit, Joensuu, Finland 3: Agricultural University of Iceland, Keldnaholt, IS-112 Reykjavik, Icelandic Forest Research, Mogilsa, Reykjavik, Iceland 4: Department of Ecology, SLU, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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