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Influence of tree species composition, thinning intensity and climate change on carbon sequestration in Mediterranean mountain forests: a case study using the CO2Fix model

Abstract

Prediction of future forest carbon (C) stocks as influenced by forest management and climate is a crucial issue in the search for strategies to mitigate and adapt to global change. It is hard to quantify the long-term effect of specific forest practices on C stocks due to the high number of processes affected by forest management. This work aims to quantify how forest management impacts C stocks in Mediterranean mountain forests based on 25 combinations of site index, tree species composition and thinning intensity in three different climate scenarios using the CO2Fix v.3.2 model Masera et al. (Ecol Modell 164:177–199, 2003). The study area is an ecotonal zone located in Central Spain, and the tree species are Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica Willd.). Our results show a strong effect of tree species composition and a negligible effect of thinning intensity. Mixed stands have the highest total stand C stocks: 100 % and 15 % more than pure oak and pine stands respectively, and are here suggested as a feasible and effective mitigation option. Climate change induced a net C loss compared to control scenarios, when reduction in tree growth is taken into account. Mixed stands showed the lowest reduction in forest C stocks due to climate change, indicating that mixed stands are also a valid adaptation strategy. Thus converting from pure to mixed forests would enhance C sequestration under both current and future climate conditions.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Dr. Miren Del Río for her valuable advice, and the management of Valsain for their support, particularly Javier Donés. This work has been partially funded by the projects AGL2010-16862/FOR and SUM2006-00034-CO2 from the Spanish Ministry of Education. The paper has been revised by Ms Pru Brooke-Turner.

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Correspondence to Sergio Alvarez.

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Alvarez, S., Ortiz, C., Díaz-Pinés, E. et al. Influence of tree species composition, thinning intensity and climate change on carbon sequestration in Mediterranean mountain forests: a case study using the CO2Fix model. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 21, 1045–1058 (2016) doi:10.1007/s11027-014-9565-4

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Keywords

  • Biomass carbon
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Modeling
  • Mediterranean forests
  • Scots pine
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Pyrenean oak