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Climate costs of boreal forest clear-cutting – a multiscale experiment

Green forest. Photo.

The boreal region forms a nearly continuous circumpolar belt of forest extending between 50˚ and 70˚ N in Europe, Asia, and North America. The boreal forest is the world‘s second largest forested region after the tropical forest. It removes and stores on average 500 mio tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. This is about 20% of the global terrestrial carbon sink. Forest management regimes have a major impact on this terrestrial carbon sink. For example, at what stand age a forest is clear-cut or what tree species is replanted, are key decisions as the trees will experience and possibly affect future climate.

This project aims to assess the climate effects of rotation forestry at Norunda, the boreal research site with Sweden's longest record of greenhouse gas measurements.

Clear-cut forest. Photo.

About the project

In Sweden, boreal forest covers a large area, and rotation forestry with final felling followed by planting is currently the predominant management regime here. Our ICOS study site Norunda is located in central Sweden and is one of a few boreal forest research sites globally with records of carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange between land and the atmosphere spanning over more than 25 years. The forest at Norunda is clear-cut in 2022. This project therefore provided the ultimate last opportunity to apply interdisciplinary technology to collect additional information on the forest, and observing the changes introduced with the clear-cut.

We will deliver a rich dataset of below and above ground measures from the Norunda research area as forest and as clear-cut. We measure, for example, the exchanges of greenhouse gases CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide to derive the full greenhouse gas budget of the area, but also biomass dynamics, soil conditions, groundwater and soil moisture dynamics, at scales spanning from microbes to the ecosystem. This dataset is used to calibrate the ecosystem model LPJ-Guess, simulate greenhouse gas sinks and sources from land and vegetation, and analyse consequences of a range of reforestation strategies and climate change scenarios.


Projected effects of climate change and forest management on carbon fluxes and biomass of a boreal forest (Lund University's research portal)

Spatial heterogeneity of soil carbon exchanges and their drivers in a boreal forest (Lund University's research portal) 


ICOS Sweden

Norunda on ICOS Sweden's website.