Future climate impacts on forest growth and implications for carbon sequestration through reforestation in southeast Australia

Bin Wang, Cathy Waters, Muhuddin Rajin Anwar, Annette Cowie, De Li Liu, David Summers, Keryn Paul, Puyu Feng

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Reforestation is identified as one of the key nature-based solutions to deliver carbon dioxide removal, which will be required to achieve the net zero ambition of the Paris Agreement. However, the potential for sequestration through reforestation is uncertain because climate change is expected to affect the drivers of forest growth. This study used the process-based 3-PG model to investigate the effects of climate change on development of above-ground biomass (AGB), as an indicator of forest growth, in regenerating native forests in southeast Australia. We investigated how changing climate affects AGB, by combining historical data and future climate projections based on 25 global climate models (GCMs) for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) under two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. We found that the ensemble means of 25 GCMs indicated an increase in temperature with large variations in projected rainfall. When these changes were applied in 3-PG, we found an increase in the simulated AGB by as much as 25% under a moderate emission scenario. This estimate rose to 51% under a high emission scenario by the end of the 21st century across nine selected sites in southeast Australia. However, when CO2 response was excluded, we found a large decrease in AGB at the nine sites. Our modelling results showed that the modelled response to elevated atmospheric CO2 (the CO2 fertilization effect) was largely responsible for the simulated increase of AGB (%). We found that the estimates of future changes in the AGB were subject to uncertainties originating from climate projections, future emission scenarios, and the assumed response to CO2 fertilization. Such modelling simulation improves understanding of possible climate change impacts on forest growth and the inherent uncertainties in estimating mitigation potential through reforestation, with implications for climate policy in Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number113964
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


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