Bridging mapping and simulation modelling in the ecosystem service assessments of boreal forests: effects of bioenergy production on carbon dynamics

Anu Akujärvi (Corresponding Author), Anna Repo, Altti M. Akujärvi, Jari Liski

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Abstract

Background: Increasing the use of forest harvest residues for bioenergy production reduces greenhouse emissions from the use of fossil fuels. However, it may also reduce carbon stocks and habitats for deadwood dependent species. Consequently, simple tools for assessing the trade-offs of alternative management practices on forest dynamics and their services to people are needed. The objectives of this study were to combine mapping and simulation modelling to investigate the effects of forest management on ecosystem services related to carbon cycle in the case of bioenergy production; and to evaluate the suitability of this approach for assessing ecosystem services at the landscape level. Stand level simulations of forest growth and carbon budget were combined with extensive multi-source forest inventory data across a southern boreal landscape in Finland. Stochastic changes in the stand age class distribution over the study region were simulated to mimic variation in management regimes. Results: The mapping framework produced reasonable estimates of the effects of forest management on a set of key ecosystem service indicators: the annual carbon stocks and fluxes of forest biomass and soil, timber and energy-wood production and the coarse woody litter production over a simulation period 2012–2100. Regular harvesting, affecting the stand age class distribution, was a key driver of the carbon stock changes at a landscape level. Extracting forest harvest residues in the final felling caused carbon loss from litter and soil, particularly with combined aboveground residue and stump harvesting. It also reduced the annual coarse woody litter production, demonstrating negative impacts on deadwood abundance and, consequently, forest biodiversity. Conclusions: The refined mapping framework was suitable for assessing ecosystem services at the landscape level. The procedure contributes to bridging the gap between ecosystem service mapping and detailed simulation modelling in boreal forests. It allows for visualizing ecosystem services as fine resolution maps to support sustainable land use planning. In the future, more detailed models and a wider variety of ecosystem service indicators could be added to develop the method.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalForest ecosystems
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Carbon budget
  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest bioenergy
  • Forest management
  • Landscape level
  • Mapping
  • Modelling

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