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Selected Publication:

Magerl, A; Matej, S; Kaufmann, L; Le Noe, J; Erb, K; Gingrich, S.
(2022): Forest carbon sink in the US (1870-2012) driven by substitution of forest ecosystem service flows
RESOUR CONSERV RECY. 2022; 176, 105927 FullText FullText_BOKU

Understanding the dynamics behind forest transitions, i.e., shifts from deforestation to forest recovery, is crucial for forest conservation and climate-change mitigation i.e., carbon (C) sequestration. We investigated the drivers of the forest transition in the United States, which was characterized by forest thickening despite surges in industrial wood extraction. We employ the concepts of Human Appropriation of Net Primary Productivity (HANPP) and Material and Energy Flow Analysis (MEFA) to quantitatively assess changes in major provisioning ecosystem services demanded from forests, i.e., industrial wood (comprising biomass used in products such as paper and pulp), grazing, and fuelwood, and analyse substitution processes from 1870-2012 at regional, sectoral, and national scales. The share of industrial wood in total annual forest biomass harvest increased from 23% to 84% over the time-period, while fuelwood and biomass grazed declined from 63% to 13%, and 14% to 3%, respectively. Reductions in demand for fuelwood and biomass grazed were enabled by shifts in feed and energy sources, consequently allowing for increases in both livestock numbers and energy use. Feed crops increased six-fold, alleviating grazing pressure on forest ecosystems, particularly in the Eastern states. Fossil fuels replaced fuelwood, especially in the residential sector. Between 1900-2012 the final energy mix increased seventeen-fold. Thus, the increase in biomass C stocks in U.S. forests was connected to substitution of forest ecosystem services with fossil fuel-based production systems, and with manifold increases in societal resource use and C dynamics. Such shifts need to be considered when assessing the positive environmental effects of forest transitions.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Erb Karlheinz
Gingrich Simone
Kaufmann Lisa
Le Noe Julia
Magerl Andreas
Matej Sarah
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Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Forest transition
United States
Ecosystem services
Forest use
Carbon dynamics
Social metabolism

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