Current issue: 54(3)
A gap-model was used with forest inventory data in taking ground-true site, soil and tree characteristics into account in predicting the effects of climate change on forests. A total of 910 permanent sample plots established in the course of national forest inventory (NFI) in Finland and located on mineral soil sites in southern Finland were selected as the input data. The climatological input used in the simulations consisted of interpolated means of and deviations from long-term local temperature and precipitation records. The policy-oriented climate scenarios of SILMU (Finnish Research Programme on Climate Change) were used to describe the climate change. The temperature changes in the climate scenarios were increases of ca. +1.1 °C (low), +4.4 °C (medium) and +6.6 °C (high) compared to the current climate in 110 years. The simulation period was 110 years covering the time years 1990–2100.
Southern Finland, divided into fifteen forestry board districts, was used as the study region. Regional development of stand volume, cutting yield, and total wood production of forests under different climate scenarios were examined. The annual average growth in simulations under current climate was close to that observed in NFL Forests benefited from a modest temperature increase (Scenario 2), but under Scenario 1 the growing stock remained at a lower level than under the current climate in all parts of the study region. In wood production and cutting yield there were regional differences. In the southern part of the study regional wood production under Scenario 1 was ca. 10% lower than under the current climate, but in the eastern and western parts wood production was 5–15% higher under Scenario 1 than under the current climate. The relative values of total wood production and cutting yield indicated that the response of forests to climate change varied by geographical location and the magnitude of climate change. This may be a consequence of not just varying climatic (e.g. temperature and precipitation) and site conditions, but of varying responses by different kind of forests (e.g. forests differing in tree species composition and age).