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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Apr 3;115(14):3663-3668. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1720064115. Epub 2018 Mar 19.

Land use strategies to mitigate climate change in carbon dense temperate forests.

Author information

1
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97333; bev.law@oregonstate.edu.
2
Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844.
3
EcoSpatial Services L.L.C., Flagstaff, AZ 86004.
4
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97333.

Abstract

Strategies to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions through forestry activities have been proposed, but ecosystem process-based integration of climate change, enhanced CO2, disturbance from fire, and management actions at regional scales are extremely limited. Here, we examine the relative merits of afforestation, reforestation, management changes, and harvest residue bioenergy use in the Pacific Northwest. This region represents some of the highest carbon density forests in the world, which can store carbon in trees for 800 y or more. Oregon's net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB) was equivalent to 72% of total emissions in 2011-2015. By 2100, simulations show increased net carbon uptake with little change in wildfires. Reforestation, afforestation, lengthened harvest cycles on private lands, and restricting harvest on public lands increase NECB 56% by 2100, with the latter two actions contributing the most. Resultant cobenefits included water availability and biodiversity, primarily from increased forest area, age, and species diversity. Converting 127,000 ha of irrigated grass crops to native forests could decrease irrigation demand by 233 billion m3⋅y-1 Utilizing harvest residues for bioenergy production instead of leaving them in forests to decompose increased emissions in the short-term (50 y), reducing mitigation effectiveness. Increasing forest carbon on public lands reduced emissions compared with storage in wood products because the residence time is more than twice that of wood products. Hence, temperate forests with high carbon densities and lower vulnerability to mortality have substantial potential for reducing forest sector emissions. Our analysis framework provides a template for assessments in other temperate regions.

KEYWORDS:

carbon balance; climate mitigation; forests; greenhouse gas emissions

PMID:
29555758
PMCID:
PMC5889652
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1720064115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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