Canadian Forest Service Publications

Modelling forest carbon stock changes as affected by harvest and natural disturbances. II. EU‑level analysis. 2016. Pilli, R.; Grassi, G.; Kurz, W.A.; Moris, J.V.; Vinas, R.A. Carbon Balance Manage 11:20.

Year: 2016

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39009

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1186/s13021-016-0059-4

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Background: Forests and the forest sector may play an important role in mitigating climate change. The Paris Agreement and the recent legislative proposal to include the land use sector in the EU 2030 climate targets reflect this expectation. However, greater confidence on estimates from national greenhouse gas inventories (GHGI) and more comprehensive analyses of mitigation options are needed to seize this mitigation potential. The aim of this paper is to provide a tool at EU level for verifying the EU GHGI and for simulating specific policy and forest management scenarios. Therefore, the Carbon Budget Model (CBM) was applied for an integrated assessment of the EU forest carbon (C) balance from 2000 to 2012, including: (i) estimates of the C stock and net CO2 emissions for forest management (FM), afforestation/reforestation (AR) and deforestation (D), covering carbon in both the forest and the harvest wood product (HWP) pools; (ii) an overall analysis of the C dynamics associated with harvest and natural disturbances (mainly storms and fires); (iii) a comparison of our estimates with the data reported in the EU GHGI. Results: Overall, the average annual FM sink (−365 Mt CO2 year−1) estimated by the CBM in the period 2000–2012 corresponds to about 7 % of total GHG emissions at the EU level for the same period (excluding land use, land use change and forestry). The HWP pool sink (−44 Mt CO2 year−1) contributes an additional 1 %. Emissions from D (about 33 Mt CO2 year−1) are more than compensated by the sink in AR (about 43 Mt CO2 year−1 over the period). For FM, the estimates from the CBM were about 8 % lower than the EU GHGI, a value well within the typical uncertainty range of the EU forest sink estimates. For AR and D the match with the EU GHGI was nearly perfect (difference <±2 % in the period 2008–2012). Our analysis on harvest and natural disturbances shows that: (i) the impact of harvest is much greater than natural disturbances but, because of salvage logging (often very relevant), the impact of natural disturbances is often not easily distinguishable from the impact of harvest, and (ii) the impact of storms on the biomass C stock is 5–10 times greater than fires, but while storms cause only indirect emissions (i.e., a transfer of C from living biomass to dead organic matter), fires cause both direct and indirect emissions. Conclusions: This study presents the application of a consistent methodological approach, based on an inventory based model, adapted to the forest management conditions of EU countries. The approach captures, with satisfactory detail, the C sink reported in the EU GHGI and the country-specific variability due to harvest, natural disturbances and land-use changes. To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive study of its kind at EU level, i.e., including all the forest pools, HWP and natural disturbances, and a comparison with the EU GHGI. The results provide the basis for possible future policy-relevant applications of this model, e.g., as a tool to support GHGIs (e.g., on accounting for natural disturbances) and to verify the EU GHGI, and for the simulation of specific scenarios at EU level.