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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Stand age and climate influence forest ecosystem service delivery and multifunctionality

Jonsson, Micael; Bengtsson, Jan; Moen, Jon; Gamfeldt, Lars; Snall, Tord

Abstract

We examine how levels of multiple ecosystem services (ESs) change with succession in forests with different tree species composition. More specifically we ask how ecosystem age interacts with environmental conditions to regulate ES delivery. Using the nationwide Swedish forest inventory, comprising boreal and temperate regions, we investigated how levels of six provisioning, regulating, recreational, and/or cultural forest ESs changed with forest age (10-185 years) in stands of different tree species composition. We also tested whether the number of ESs delivered (i.e. multifunctionality) changed substantially with stand age, using different threshold levels for ES delivery. Accounting for environmental conditions and stand properties, we found that levels of single ESs changed with stand age. Tree biomass production usually peaked in young to medium aged stands. In contrast, production of berries and game, and services related to biodiversity, were typically highest in old stands (120-185 years). Consistent with this strong temporal tradeoff, multifunctionality at lower threshold levels increased with stand age in most monocultures and mixtures, with the highest multifunctionality being reached somewhere between 100 and 185 years, depending on tree species composition. This was not evident for the highest threshold ES level (the top-20%), however. Moreover, multifunctionality usually decreased with warmer climatic conditions, with the exception of spruce-pine-birch mixtures. Taken together, our results show that a reduced forest age, e.g. due to forestry targeting early harvest of stands, most likely would limit the delivery of several ESs valued by society and result in less multifunctional forests. To maintain the capacity of forests to deliver high levels of multiple ESs, the role of stand age and tree species composition should be considered in decisions on how to manage future forests.

Keywords

berry production; biodiversity; carbon storage; dead wood; game production; tree production; understory richness

Published in

Environmental Research Letters
2020, volume: 15, number: 9, article number: 0940a8
Publisher: IOP PUBLISHING LTD

Authors' information

Jonsson, Micael
Umea University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Moen, Jon
Umea University
Gamfeldt, Lars
University of Gothenburg
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Species Information Centre

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abaf1c

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/108121