To further the understanding of climate change adaptation processes, more attention needs to be paid to the various contextual factors that shape whether and how climate-related knowledge and information is received and acted upon by actors involved. This study sets out to examine the characteristics of forest owners' in Sweden, the information and knowledge-sharing networks they draw upon for decision-making, and their perceptions of climate risks, their forests' resilience, the need for adaptation, and perceived adaptive capacity. By applying the concept of ego-network analysis, the empirical data was generated by a quantitative survey distributed to 3000 private forest owners' in Sweden in 2014 with a response rate of 31%. The results show that there is a positive correlation, even though it is generally weak, between forest owner climate perceptions and (i) network features, i.e. network size and heterogeneity, and (ii) presence of certain alter groups (i.e. network members or actors). Results indicate that forest owners' social networks currently serve only a minimal function of sharing knowledge of climate change and adaptation. Moreover, considering the fairly infrequent contact between respondents and alter groups, the timing of knowledge sharing is important. In conclusion we suggest those actors that forest owners' most frequently communicate with, especially forestry experts providing advisory services (e.g. forest owner associations, companies, and authorities) have a clear role to communicate both the risks of climate change and opportunities for adaptation. Peers are valuable in connecting information about climate risks and adaptation to the actual forest property.
There is a growing demand for alternatives to Sweden's current dominant silvicultural system, driven by a desire to raise biomass production, meet environmental goals and mitigate climate change. However, moving towards diversified forest management that deviates from well established silvicultural practices carries many uncertainties and risks. Adaptive management is often suggested as an effective means of managing in the context of such complexities. Yet there has been scepticism over its appropriateness in cases characterised by large spatial extents, extended temporal scales and complex land ownership-characteristics typical of Swedish forestry. Drawing on published research, including a new paradigm for adaptive management, we indicate how common pitfalls can be avoided during implementation. We indicate the investment, infrastructure, and considerations necessary to benefit from adaptive management. In doing so, we show how this approach could offer a pragmatic operational model for managing the uncertainties, risks and obstacles associated with new silvicultural systems and the challenges facing Swedish forestry.
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The loss of biodiversity is threatening ecosystem productivity and services worldwide, spurring efforts to quantify its effects on the functioning of natural ecosystems. Previous research has focused on the positive role of biodiversity on resource acquisition (i.e., niche complementarity), but a lack of study on resource utilization efficiency, a link between resource and productivity, has rendered it difficult to quantify the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship. Here we demonstrate that biodiversity loss reduces plant productivity, other things held constant, through theory, empirical evidence, and simulations under gradually relaxed assumptions. We developed a theoretical model named niche-efficiency to integrate niche complementarity and a heretofore-ignored mechanism of diminishing marginal productivity in quantifying the effects of biodiversity loss on plant productivity. Based on niche-efficiency, we created a relative productivity metric and a productivity impact index (PII) to assist in biological conservation and resource management. Relative productivity provides a standardized measure of the influence of biodiversity on individual productivity, and PII is a functionally based taxonomic index to assess individual species' inherent value in maintaining current ecosystem productivity. Empirical evidence from the Alaska boreal forest suggests that every 1% reduction in overall plant diversity could render an average of 0.23% decline in individual tree productivity. Out of the 283 plant species of the region, we found that large woody plants generally have greater PII values than other species. This theoretical model would facilitate the integration of biological conservation in the international campaign against several pressing global issues involving energy use, climate change, and poverty.
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Forests are expected to expand into alpine areas due to global climate change. It has recently been shown that temperature alone cannot realistically explain this process and that upslope tree advance in a warmer scenario may depend on the availability of sites with adequate geomorphic/topographic characteristics. Here, we show that, besides topography (slope and aspect), climate itself can produce a braking effect on the upslope advance of subalpine forests and that tree limit is influenced by non-linear and non-monotonic contributions of the climate variables which act upon treeline upslope advance with varying relative strengths. Our results suggest that global climate change impact on the upslope advance of subalpine forests should be interpreted in a more complex way where climate can both speed up and slow down the process depending on complex patterns of contribution from each climate and non-climate variable.
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Surface albedo is an important physical property by which the land surface regulates climate. A wide and growing body of literature suggests that failing to account for surface albedo can result in suboptimal or even counterproductive climate-motivated policies of the land-based sectors. As such, albedo changes are increasingly included in climate impact assessments of forestry and other land sector projects through conversion of radiative forcings into carbon or carbon dioxide equivalents. However, the prevailing methodology does not sufficiently accommodate dynamic albedo changes on land or CO2 in the atmosphere. We present two new metrics designed to address these deficiencies, referring to them as the time-dependent emissions equivalent and the time-independent emissions equivalent of albedo changes. We demonstrate their application in various land management contexts and discuss their merits and uncertainties.
Globally 40-70 Pg of carbon (C) are stored in coarse woody debris on the forest floor. Climate change may reduce the function of this stock as a C sink in the future due to increasing temperature. However, current knowledge on the drivers of wood decomposition is inadequate for detailed predictions. To define the factors that control wood respiration rate of Norway spruce and to produce a model that adequately describes the decomposition process of this species as a function of time, we used an unprecedentedly diverse analytical approach, which included measurements of respiration, fungal community sequencing, N2 fixation rate, nifH copy number, 14 C-dating as well as N%, d13 C and C% values of wood. Our results suggest that climate change will accelerate C flux from deadwood in boreal conditions, due to the observed strong temperature dependency of deadwood respiration. At the research site, the annual C flux from deadwood would increase by 27% from the current 117 g C/kg wood with the projected climate warming (RCP4.5). The second most important control on respiration rate was the stage of wood decomposition; at early stages of decomposition low nitrogen content and low wood moisture limited fungal activity while reduced wood resource quality decreased the respiration rate at the final stages of decomposition. Wood decomposition process was best described by a Sigmoidal model, where after 116 years of wood decomposition mass loss of 95% was reached. Our results on deadwood decomposition are important for C budget calculations in ecosystem and climate change models. We observed for the first time that the temperature dependency of N2 fixation, which has a major role at providing N for wood-inhabiting fungi, was not constant but varied between wood density classes due to source supply and wood quality. This has significant consequences on projecting N2 fixation rates for deadwood in changing climate.
Climate change, higher levels of natural resource demands, and changing land use will likely lead to changes in vegetation configuration in the mountain regions. The aim of this study was to determine if the vegetation cover and composition have changed in the Swedish region of the Scandinavian Mountain Range, based on data from the long-term landscape biodiversity monitoring program NILS (National Inventory of Landscapes in Sweden). Habitat type and vegetation cover were assessed in 1740 systematically distributed permanent field plots grouped into 145 sample units across the mountain range. Horvitz-Thompson estimations were used to estimate the present areal extension of the alpine and the mountain birch forest areas of the mountain range, the cover of trees, shrubs, and plants, and the composition of the bottom layer vegetation. We employed the data from two subsequent 5-year monitoring periods, 2003-2007 and 2008-2012, to determine if there have been any changes in these characteristics. We found that the extension of the alpine and the mountain birch forest areas has not changed between the inventory phases. However, the total tree canopy cover increased in the alpine area, the cover of graminoids and dwarf shrubs and the total cover of field vegetation increased in both the alpine area and the mountain birch forest, the bryophytes decreased in the alpine area, and the foliose lichens decreased in the mountain birch forest. The observed changes in vegetation cover and composition, as assessed by systematic data in a national and regional monitoring scheme, can validate the results of local studies, experimental studies, and models. Through benchmark assessments, monitoring data also contributes to governmental policies and land-management strategies as well as to directed cause and effect analyses.
The urgent need to mitigate climate change invokes both opportunities and challenges for forest biomass utilization. Fossil fuels can be substituted by using wood products in place of alternative materials and energy, but wood harvesting reduces forest carbon sink and processing of wood products requires material and energy inputs. We assessed the extended life cycle carbon emissions considering substitution impacts for various wood utilization scenarios over 100 years from 2010 onward for Finland. The scenarios were based on various but constant wood utilization structures reflecting current and anticipated mix of wood utilization activities. We applied stochastic simulation to deal with the uncertainty in a number of input variables required. According to our analysis, the wood utilization decrease net carbon emissions with a probability lower than 40% for each of the studied scenarios. Furthermore, large emission reductions were exceptionally unlikely. The uncertainty of the results were influenced clearly the most by the reduction in the forest carbon sink. There is a significant trade-off between avoiding emissions through fossil fuel substitution and reduction in forest carbon sink due to wood harvesting. This creates a major challenge for forest management practices and wood utilization activities in responding to ambitious climate change mitigation targets.
Expanding high-elevation and high-latitude forest has contrasting climate feedbacks through carbon sequestration (cooling) and reduced surface reflectance (warming), which are yet poorly quantified. Here, we present an empirically based projection of mountain birch forest expansion in south-central Norway under climate change and absence of land use. Climate effects of carbon sequestration and albedo change are compared using four emission metrics. Forest expansion was modeled for a projected 2.6 °C increase in summer temperature in 2100, with associated reduced snow cover. We find that the current (year 2000) forest line of the region is circa 100 m lower than its climatic potential due to land-use history. In the future scenarios, forest cover increased from 12% to 27% between 2000 and 2100, resulting in a 59% increase in biomass carbon storage and an albedo change from 0.46 to 0.30. Forest expansion in 2100 was behind its climatic potential, forest migration rates being the primary limiting factor. In 2100, the warming caused by lower albedo from expanding forest was 10 to 17 times stronger than the cooling effect from carbon sequestration for all emission metrics considered. Reduced snow cover further exacerbated the net warming feedback. The warming effect is considerably stronger than previously reported for boreal forest cover, because of the typically low biomass density in mountain forests and the large changes in albedo of snow-covered tundra areas. The positive climate feedback of high-latitude and high-elevation expanding forests with seasonal snow cover exceeds those of afforestation at lower elevation, and calls for further attention of both modelers and empiricists. The inclusion and upscaling of these climate feedbacks from mountain forests into global models is warranted to assess the potential global impacts.
Both pollution and climate affect insect-plant interactions, but the combined effects of these two abiotic drivers of global change on insect herbivory remain almost unexplored. From 1991 to 2016, we monitored the population densities of 25 species or species groups of insects feeding on mountain birch (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii) in 29 sites and recorded leaf damage by insects in 21 sites in subarctic forests around the nickel-copper smelter at Monchegorsk, north-western Russia. The leaf-eating insects demonstrated variable, and sometimes opposite, responses to pollution-induced forest disturbance and to climate variations. Consequently, we did not discover any general trend in herbivory along the disturbance gradient. Densities of eight species/species groups correlated with environmental disturbance, but these correlations weakened from 1991 to 2016, presumably due to the fivefold decrease in emissions of sulphur dioxide and heavy metals from the smelter. The densities of externally feeding defoliators decreased from 1991 to 2016 and the densities of leafminers increased, while the leaf roller densities remained unchanged. Consequently, no overall temporal trend in the abundance of birch-feeding insects emerged despite a 2-3°C elevation in spring temperatures. Damage to birch leaves by insects decreased during the observation period in heavily disturbed forests, did not change in moderately disturbed forests and tended to increase in pristine forests. The temporal stability of insect-plant interactions, quantified by the inverse of the coefficient of among-year variations of herbivore population densities and of birch foliar damage, showed a negative correlation with forest disturbance. We conclude that climate differently affects insect herbivory in heavily stressed versus pristine forests, and that herbivorous insects demonstrate diverse responses to environmental disturbance and climate variations. This diversity of responses, in combination with the decreased stability of insect-plant interactions, increases the uncertainty in predictions on the impacts of global change on forest damage by insects.