Modelling the potential of forest management to mitigate climate change in Eastern Canadian forests

Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 4;13(1):14506. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-41790-2.


Climate change poses a serious risk to sustainable forest management, particularly in boreal forests where natural disturbances have been projected to become more severe. In three Quebec boreal forest management units, biomass carbon storage under various climate change and management scenarios was projected over 300 years (2010-2310) with a process-based dynamic landscape model (PnET-succession for Landis-II). Several strategies varying in their use of partial cuts and clear cuts, including business as usual (BAU) (clear-cut applied on more than 95% of the managed area), were tested and compared to conservation scenarios (no-harvest). Based on simulation results at the landscape scale, the clearcut-based scenarios such as BAU could result in a decrease of biomass carbon stock by 10 tC ha-1 yr-1 compared to the natural scenario. However, this reduction in carbon stock could be offset in the long term through changes in composition, as clearcut systems promote the expansion of trembling aspen and white birch. In contrast, the use of strategies based on partial cuts on more than 75% or 50% of the managed area was closer to or better than the natural scenario and resulted in greater coniferous cover retention. These strategies seemed to be the best to maximize and stabilize biomass carbon storage and ensure wood supply under different climate change scenarios, yet they would require further access and appropriate infrastructure. Furthermore, these strategies could maintain species compositions and age structures similar to natural scenarios, and thus may consequently help achieve forest ecosystem-based management targets. This study presents promising strategies to guide sustainable forest management in Eastern Canada in the context of climate change.

PMID:37666929 | PMC:PMC10477314 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-41790-2


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