Title: The European forest sector: past and future carbon budget and fluxes under different management scenarios
Citation: BIOGEOSCIENCES vol. 14 no. 9 p. 2387–2405
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC104474
ISSN: 1726-4170
URI: www.biogeosciences.net/14/2387/2017/
DOI: 10.5194/bg-14-2387-2017
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The comprehensive analysis of carbon stocks and fluxes of managed European forests is a prerequisite to quantify their role in biomass production and climate change mitigation. We applied the Carbon Budget Model (CBM, Kurz et al., 2009) to 26 European (EU) countries, parameterized with country information on the historical forest age structure, management practices, harvest regimes and the main natural disturbances. We quantified C stocks for the five forest pools plus Harvested Wood Products (HWP), and the fluxes among these pools, from 2000 to 2030. The aim is to quantify the main C fluxes as affected by land-use changes, natural disturbances and forest management and to asses the impact of specific harvest and afforestation scenarios after 2012 on the mitigation potential of the EU forest sector. Substitution effects and the possible impacts of climate are not included in this analysis. Results show that for the historical period (2000 – 2012) the net primary productivity (NPP) of the forest pools at the EU level is on average equal to 639 Tg C yr-1, the losses are dominated by heterotrophic respiration (409 Tg C yr-1) and fellings (110 Tg C yr-1 due to removals), with direct fire emissions being only 1 Tg C yr-1, leading to a net carbon stock change (i.e. sink) of 110 Tg C yr-1. Fellings also transferred 28 Tg C yr-1 of harvest residues from biomass dead organic matter pools. The average annual forest Net Sector Exchange (NSE), i.e. the carbon stock changes in the forest pools plus HWP, equals 122 Tg C yr-1 (i.e., about 19% of the NPP) for the historical period and in 2030 reaches 126 Tg C yr-1, 101 Tg C yr-1 and 151 Tg C yr-1, assuming respectively a constant, increasing (+20%) and decreasing (-20%) scenario of both harvest and afforestation rates compared to the historical period. Under the constant harvest rate scenario, our findings show an incipient aging process for the forests existing in 1990: despite the NPP is still increasing (+7%) the greater increase of heterotrophic respiration (+13%) leads to a decrease of the sink in the forest pools (- 6%) in 2030 compared to the historical period. The detailed picture of the C fluxes within the EU forest sector condensed in this study, and their evolution under different harvest scenarios, provide a useful framework for more detailed future analyses (spatially or temporally) on the mitigation potential of the forest sector. Overall, our study confirms that, in the majority of European countries, the build-up of biomass stocks results from woody NPP exceeding losses by timber harvest and natural disturbances. However, at the country level, we highlighted some statistical differences, suggesting that this relationship cannot be assumed as constant for all European countries. Specific forest conditions, such as the harvest rate, the current age structure and forest composition, may have a different impact on the country-specific evolution of biomass stocks.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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