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First signs of carbon sink saturation in European forest biomass

Nature Climate Change volume 3, pages 792796 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

European forests are seen as a clear example of vegetation rebound in the Northern Hemisphere; recovering in area and growing stock since the 1950s, after centuries of stock decline and deforestation. These regrowing forests have shown to be a persistent carbon sink, projected to continue for decades, however, there are early signs of saturation. Forest policies and management strategies need revision if we want to sustain the sink.

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Acknowledgements

The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the institutions to which they are affiliated, nor the position of the funding agencies. We are grateful to Lauri Hetemaki of European Forest Institute and to Pep Canadell of the Global Carbon Project for comments on an early draft. We thank national data correspondents who contributed to international statistics and Mart-Jan Schelhaas for an update of Fig. 3. This work is related to and partly done in connection with the COST Action Echoes (FP0703) and the EU funded projects Motive, Trees4Future, Volante, and GHG-Europe (Project Numbers 226544, 284181, 265104 and 244122). Joy B-Burough carried out an English language check.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Alterra, Wageningen University and Research, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, Netherlands

    • Gert-Jan Nabuurs
  2. European Forest Institute, Torikatu 34, 80100 Joensuu, Finland

    • Marcus Lindner
    •  & Pieter J. Verkerk
  3. Arbonaut, Kaislakatu 2, 80130 Joensuu, Finland

    • Katja Gunia
  4. FAO-UNECE Forestry and Timber Section, Palais des Nations, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

    • Paola Deda
    •  & Roman Michalak
  5. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, TP 262, Via Fermi, 21027 Ispra, Varese, Italy

    • Giacomo Grassi

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Contributions

G.N. did the Fig. 1 analyses, interpretations, and wrote large parts of the paper. M.L. and P.J.V. contributed to interpretation and writing of the manuscript. K.G. provided the deforestation data based on CLC in Fig. 2, and wrote parts of the section on deforestation. P.D. contributed to writing and provided data from UN-ECE/FAO sets. R.M. contributed to interpretations, writing, and provided data from UN-ECE/FAO sets. G.G. contributed to interpretations, writing, and provided data from UNFCCC datasets.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gert-Jan Nabuurs.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1853