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Doctoral thesis2022Open access

Growth trends and site productivity in boreal forests under management and environmental change: insights from long-term surveys and experiments in Sweden

Appiah Mensah, Alex


Under a changing climate, current tree and stand growth information is indispensable to the carbon sink strength of boreal forests. Important questions regarding tree growth are to what extent have management and environmental change influenced it, and how it might respond in the future. In this thesis, results from five studies (Papers I-V) covering growth trends, site productivity, heterogeneity in managed forests and potentials for carbon storage in forests and harvested wood products via differing management strategies are presented. The studies were based on observations from national forest inventories and long-term experiments in Sweden. The annual height growth of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) had increased, especially after the millennium shift, while the basal area growth remains stable during the last 40 years (Papers I-II). A positive response on height growth with increasing temperature was observed. The results generally imply a changing growing condition and stand composition. In Paper III, yield capacity of conifers was analysed and compared with existing functions. The results showed that there is a bias in site productivity estimates and the new functions give better prediction of the yield capacity in Sweden. In Paper IV, the variability in stand composition was modelled as indices of heterogeneity to calibrate the relationship between basal area and leaf area index in managed stands of Norway spruce and Scots pine. The results obtained show that the stand structural heterogeneity effects here are of such a magnitude that they cannot be neglected in the implementation of hybrid growth models, especially those based on light interception and light-use efficiency. In the long-term, the net climate benefits in Swedish forests may be maximized through active forest management with high harvest levels and efficient product utilization, compared to increasing carbon storage in standing forests through land set-asides for nature conservation (Paper V). In conclusion, this thesis offers support for the development of evidence-based policy recommendations for site-adapted and sustainable management of Swedish forests in a changing climate.


long-term experiment; national forest inventory; growth trend; site productivity; heterogeneity; substitution; climate change mitigation; boreal forest

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2022, number: 2022:20ISBN: 978-91-7760-915-5, eISBN: 978-91-7760-916-2
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences