UBC Undergraduate Research

The role forest plantations play in carbon cycle and climate change Wu, Angela


Forests play major roles in a human being’s daily life. For example, the trees in a forest can be made into raw materials for buildings, transportation, and communication, as well as food, cooking fuel and farmland (FAO 2012b). Over time, the connection between humans and forests has changed in social and economic aspects. As a result, many developing countries planted forests for those reasons. This paper is a review of the how forest plantations can help to mitigate climate change. First it will review the background of forest plantations, and then followed by a comparison of forest plantation versus natural forest stands. Based on this, the advantages and disadvantages of forest plantation will be discussed. Afterwards, a brief description of carbon cycle and climate change will follow, leading into a discussion of the two case studies of tropical (Eucalyptus) and temperate (Pinus radiata) forest plantations. Each case study will discuss the end-use product of wood for carbon storage, economy, climate change policy and sustainable management options. Finally, a recommendation will be suggested on sustainable forest plantation management to climate change or increase carbon sinks in plantations. Forest Plantations are neither good nor bad, it is based on what is used for and how is it managed. Carbon cycle can be used to mitigate climate change but is heavily based the life-cycle of wood products. For example, Brazil used timber as firewood which has a short life-cycle compare to countries like New Zealand used in constructions. Overall, ongoing sustainable management practices and consideration of carbon cycle will help combat climate change in forest plantation for the future.

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