Climatic Change

, Volume 118, Issue 3–4, pp 933–948 | Cite as

China’s forest biomass carbon sink based on seven inventories from 1973 to 2008

  • Chunhua Zhang
  • Weimin Ju
  • Jing M. Chen
  • Mei Zan
  • Dengqiu Li
  • Yanlian Zhou
  • Xiqun Wang


Inconsistent estimates of forest biomass carbon stocks (BCS) in China have been reported in recent decades using inventory data. This study was to update China’s forest biomass carbon sink based on seven forest inventories from 1973 to 2008 and to identify the relative contributions to such sink from changes in forest area and biomass carbon density (BCD) as a result of growth, plantation and harvests in different regions. Our results indicated that total BCS of all forest types, including forest stands and other forest types (economic forests, woodlands, shrub forests, bamboo forests and trees on non-forest lands), increased by 65 % from 1973 to 2008 and recently reached 8.12 Pg C. Total BCS and BCD of forest stands (canopy coverage >20 %) increased from 4.11 Pg C and 35.10 Mg C ha−1 to 6.24 Pg C and 40.12 Mg C ha−1 during the study period, respectively. Forest stands acted as a biomass carbon sink of 0.17 Pg C year−1, which accounts for 84.4 % of the total sink of all forest types from 1999 to 2008 and have great potential to absorb more biomass carbon in the future due to large fractions of young and middle aged forests, which are increasing BCD. BCS of forest stands increased in all regions but the northeast region. Their biomass carbon sink was mainly driven by the BCD increase in the densely populated south and east regions and by the expansion of forest areas in the north, northwest, and southwest regions with abundant land resources.



This study is funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (2010CB950702 and 2010CB833503), Jiangsu Graduate Innovation Program (CXZZ11_0033), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions. We gratefully acknowledge the constructive suggestions by two anonymous reviewers, which helped to improve the quality of manuscript greatly.

Supplementary material

10584_2012_666_MOESM1_ESM.doc (676 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 808 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chunhua Zhang
    • 1
  • Weimin Ju
    • 1
  • Jing M. Chen
    • 1
  • Mei Zan
    • 1
  • Dengqiu Li
    • 1
  • Yanlian Zhou
    • 2
  • Xiqun Wang
    • 3
  1. 1.International Institute for Earth System ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.School of Geographic and Oceanographic SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Planning and Design Institute of Forest Products IndustryState Forestry Administration of ChinaBeijingChina

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