Projected effects of climate change on the carbon stocks of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests in Zala County, Hungary

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Abstract

Recent studies suggest that climate change will lead to the local extinction of many tree species from large areas during this century, affecting the functioning and ecosystem services of many forests. This study reports on projected carbon losses due to the assumed local climate change-driven extinction of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) from Zala County, South-Western Hungary, where the species grows at the xeric limit of its distribution. The losses were calculated as a difference between carbon stocks in climate change scenarios assuming an exponentially increasing forest decline over time, and those in a baseline scenario assuming no climate change. In the climate change scenarios, three different sets of forest management adaptation measures were studied: (1) only harvesting damaged stands, (2) additionally salvaging dead trees that died due to climate change, and (3) replacing, at an increasing rate over time, beech with sessile oak (Quercus petraea Matt. Lieb.) after final harvest. Projections were made using the open access carbon accounting model CASMOFOR based on modeling or assuming effects of climate change on mortality, tree growth, root-to-shoot ratio and decomposition rates. Results demonstrate that, if beech disappears from the region as projected by the end of the century, over 80% of above-ground biomass carbon, and over 60% of the carbon stocks of all pools (excluding soils) of the forests will be lost by 2100. Such emission rates on large areas may have a discernible positive feedback on climate change, and can only partially be offset by the forest management adaptation measures.

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Central European Forestry Journal

The Journal of National Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute Zvolen

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