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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Apr 2019

Research article | 16 Apr 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Modelling forest plantations for carbon uptake with the LPJmL dynamic global vegetation model

Maarten C. Braakhekke1,2, Jonathan C. Doelman2, Peter Baas3, Christoph Müller4, Sibyll Schaphoff4, Elke Stehfest2, and Detlef P. van Vuuren2 Maarten C. Braakhekke et al.
  • 1Wageningen Environmental Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 2PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Hague, the Netherlands
  • 3Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 4Potsdam Institute forClimate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. We present an extension of the dynamic global vegetation model LPJmL to simulate planted forests intended for C sequestration. We implemented three functional types to simulate plantation trees in temperate, tropical, and boreal climates. The parameters of these functional types were optimized to fit target growth curves (TGCs). These curves represent the evolution of stemwood C over time in typical productive plantations and were derived by combining field observations and LPJmL estimates for equivalent natural forests. While the calibrated model underestimates stemwood C growth rates compared to the TGCs, it represents substantial improvement over using natural forests to represent afforestation. Based on a simulation experiment in which we compared global natural forest versus global forest plantation, we found that forest plantations allow for much larger C uptake rates on the time scale of 100 years, with a maximum difference of a factor 1.9, around 54 years. In subsequent simulations for an ambitious but realistic scenario in which 650 Mha (14 % of global managed land, 4.5 % of global land surface) is converted to forest over 85 years, we found that natural forests take up 37 PgC versus 48 PgC for forest plantations. Comparing these results to estimations of C sequestration required to achieve the 2 °C climate target, we conclude that afforestation can offer a substantial contribution to climate mitigation. Full evaluation of afforestation as a climate change mitigation strategy requires an integrated assessment which considers all relevant aspects, including costs, biodiversity, and trade-offs with other land-use types. Our extended version of LPJmL can contribute such an assessment by providing improved estimates of C uptake rates by forest plantations.

Maarten C. Braakhekke et al.
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Maarten C. Braakhekke et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We developed a computer model that simulates forests plantations at global scale, and how fast such forests can take up CO2 from the atmosphere. Using this new model we performed simulations for a scenario in which a large fraction (14 %) of global croplands and pastures are either converted to planted forests or natural forests. We find that planted forest take up CO2 substantially faster than natural forests and are therefore a viable strategy for reducing climate change.
We developed a computer model that simulates forests plantations at global scale, and how fast...