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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

On the role of forests and the forest sector for climate change mitigation in Sweden

Petersson, Hans; Ellison, David; Mensah, Alex Appiah; Berndes, Goran; Egnell, Gustaf; Lundblad, Mattias; Lundmark, Tomas; Lundstrom, Anders; Stendahl, Johan; Wikberg, Per-Erik


We analyse the short- and long-term consequences for atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations of forest management strategies and forest product uses in Sweden by comparing the modelled consequences of forest resource use vs. increased conservation at different levels of GHG savings from carbon sequestration and product substitution with bioenergy and other forest products. Increased forest set-asides for conservation resulted in larger GHG reductions only in the short term and only when substitution effects were low. In all other cases, forest use was more beneficial. In all scenarios, annual carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration rates declined in conservation forests as they mature, eventually approaching a steady state. Forest set-asides are thus associated with increasing opportunity costs corresponding to foregone wood production and associated mitigation losses. Substitution and sequestration rates under all other forest management strategies rise, providing support for sustained harvest and cumulative mitigation gains. The impact of increased fertilization was everywhere beneficial to the climate and surpassed the mitigation potential of the other scenarios. Climate change can have large-positive or negative-influence on outcomes. Despite uncertainties, the results indicate potentially large benefits from forest use for wood production. These benefits, however, are not clearly linked with forestry in UNFCCC reporting, and the European Union's Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry carbon accounting, framework may even prevent their full realization. These reporting and accounting frameworks may further have the consequence of encouraging land set-asides and reduced forest use at the expense of future biomass production. Further, carbon leakage and resulting biodiversity impacts due to increased use of more GHG-intensive products, including imported products associated with deforestation and land degradation, are inadequately assessed. Considerable opportunity to better mobilize the climate change mitigation potential of Swedish forests therefore remains.


adaptation; conservation; forest; land set-asides; LULUCF; mitigation; substitution

Published in

GCB Bioenergy
2022, Volume: 14, number: 7, pages: 793-813
Publisher: WILEY