Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1373–1386 | Cite as

Projecting canopy cover change in Tasmanian eucalypt forests using dynamically downscaled regional climate models

  • Grant J. WilliamsonEmail author
  • Lynda D. Prior
  • Michael R. Grose
  • Rebecca M. B. Harris
  • David M. J. S. Bowman
Original Article


Loss of forest cover is a likely consequence of climate change in many parts of the world. To test the vulnerability of eucalypt forests in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, we modelled tree canopy cover in the period 2070–2099 under a high-emission scenario using the current climate–canopy cover relationship in conjunction with output from a dynamically downscaled regional climate model. The current climate–canopy cover relationship was quantified using Random Forest modelling, and the future climate projections were provided by three dynamically downscaled general circulation model (GCM) simulations. Three GCMs were used to show a range of projections for the selected scenario. We also explored the sensitivity of key endemic and non-endemic Tasmanian eucalypts to climate change. All GCMs suggested that canopy cover should remain stable (proportional cover change <10 %) across ~70 % of the Tasmanian eucalypt forests. However, there were geographic areas where all models projected a decline in canopy cover due to increased summer temperatures and lower precipitation, and in addition, all models projected an increase in canopy cover in the coldest part of the state. The model projections differed substantially for other areas. Tasmanian endemic species appear vulnerable to climate change, but species that also occur on the mainland are likely to be less affected. Given these changes, restoration and carbon sequestration plantings must consider the species and provenances most suitable for future, rather than present, climates.


Eucalyptus Forest biomass Climate change General circulation model Temperature Rainfall 



This work was funded by Greening Australia and Australian Research Council Grant LP 0991026 and the Landscape and Policy Research hub supported by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program ( We would like to thank Luciana Porfirio for assistance with the ANUCLIM climate surfaces, and Leanne Webb and Marie Ekström for comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10113_2013_577_MOESM1_ESM.docx (959 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 958 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grant J. Williamson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynda D. Prior
    • 1
  • Michael R. Grose
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rebecca M. B. Harris
    • 2
  • David M. J. S. Bowman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Plant ScienceUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC)HobartAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchAspendaleAustralia

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