Part II Nutrient and Carbon Cycling

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 321-331

First online:

An analysis of future carbon budgets of Canadian boreal forests

  • W. A. KurzAffiliated withESSA Technologies Ltd.
  • , M. J. AppsAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources Canada

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The Canadian boreal forest covers over 300 Mha of land area. Its dynamics are largely influenced by fires and insect-induced stand mortality and to a much lesser extent by forest management. This paper analyses six scenarios of future (1990–2040) carbon (C) budgets of the Canadian boreal forest, each based on different assumptions about natural disturbances, rates of reforestation of disturbed land, and conversion of non-stocked to productive forest stands. The objective of these scenarios is to explore the range of responses to different management options. The results indicate an overall inertia of a system whose dynamics are strongly influenced by a recent 20-year period (1970–1989) of large-scale forest disturbances by fire and insects. The 50-year C budget of the six scenarios ranges from an estimated net source of 1.4 Pg C to a net sink of 9.2 Pg C. These estimates indicate the range of response to the management of the Canadian boreal forest. Although a full-scale implementation of the management activities examined here is not likely given ecological and economic realities in the Canadian boreal forest, the analyses explore the relative merits of reducing forest disturbance rates, regeneration delays, and the area of non-stocked forest land.


carbon budget boreal forest CBM-CFS Canada disturbance future projections