Sci Rep. 2023 Aug 18;13(1):13487. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-39810-2.
Afforestation and reforestation to meet ‘Net Zero’ emissions targets are considered a necessary policy by many countries. Their potential benefits are usually assessed through forest carbon and growth models. The implementation of vegetation demography gives scope to represent forest management and other size-dependent processes within land surface models (LSMs). In this paper, we evaluate the impact of including management within an LSM that represents demography, using both in-situ and reanalysis climate drivers at a mature, upland Sitka spruce plantation in Northumberland, UK. We compare historical simulations with fixed and variable CO2 concentrations, and with and without tree thinning implemented. Simulations are evaluated against the observed vegetation structure and carbon fluxes. Including thinning and the impact of increasing CO2 concentration (‘CO2 fertilisation’) gave more realistic estimates of stand-structure and physical characteristics. Historical CO2 fertilisation had a noticeable effect on the Gross Primary Productivity seasonal-diurnal cycle and contributed to approximately 7% higher stand biomass by 2018. The net effect of both processes resulted in a decrease of tree density and biomass, but an increase in tree height and leaf area index.