, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 239-253
Date: 21 Jun 2013

Evaluating the deployment of alternative species in planted conifer forests as a means of adaptation to climate change—case studies in New Zealand and Scotland

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Abstract

Context

A strategy widely proposed for increasing the resilience of forests against the impacts of projected climate change is to increase the number of species planted to spread and reduce the risks from a range of biotic and abiotic hazards.

Aims

We tested this strategy in two case study areas in planted conifer forests in New Zealand and Scotland.

Methods

The performance of the major tree species and an alternative was compared: radiata pine and Eucalyptus fastigata in New Zealand and Sitka spruce and Scots pine in Scotland. The process-based model 3-PG2S was used to simulate the effects of projected climate change at the end of this century, with and without CO2 fertilisation, upon productivity and financial returns. The effects of an abiotic hazard and two biotic hazards were considered.

Results

Under the current climate, the major species outperform alternatives in nearly all circumstances. However, with climate change, their relative performance alters. In New Zealand, planting of E. fastigata becomes more attractive particularly when various hazards and elevated CO2 concentrations are considered. In Scotland, Scots pine becomes more attractive than Sitka spruce at lower interest rates.

Conclusions

The major plantation species in both countries are well suited to the current climate, but deployment of alternative species and/or breeds can help to adapt these planted forests to the impacts of climate change.

Handling Editor: Douglass Jacobs

Contribution of the co-authors

Dean F. Meason was responsible for the detailed modelling presented in the paper and the analysis of the results of the New Zealand case study.
W.L. Mason was responsible for the analysis of the Scottish case study.
Both authors shared in the presentation of the results and the writing of the “Introduction” and the “Discussion” sections.