Assessment of carbon sequestration and timber production of Scots pine across Scotland using the process-based model 3-PGN
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Forests are a valuable resource for humans providing a range of products and services such as construction timber, paper and fuel wood, recreation, as well as living quarters for indigenous populations and habitats for many animal and bird species. Most recent international political agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol emphasise the role of forests as a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide mitigation. However, forest areas are rapidly decreasing world wide. Thus, it is vital that efficient strategies and tools are developed to encourage sustainable ecosystem management. These tools must be based on known ecological principles (such as tree physiological and soil nutrient cycle processes), capable of supplying fast and accurate temporal and spatial predictions of the effects of management on both timber production and carbon sequestration. This thesis had two main objectives. The first was to investigate the environmental factors affecting growth and carbon sequestration of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) across Scotland, by developing a knowledge base through a statistical analysis of old and novel field datasets. Furthermore, the process-based ecosystem model 3-PGN was developed, by coupling the existing models 3-PG and ICBM. 3-PGN calibrated using a Bayesian approach based on Monte Carlo Markov Chain simulations and it was validated for plantation stands. Sensitivity and uncertainty analyses provided an understanding of the internal feedbacks of the model. Further simulations gave a detailed eco-physiological interpretation of the environmental factors affecting Scots pine growth and it provided an assessment of carbon sequestration under the scenario of sustainable, normal production and its effects from the environment. Finally, the study investigated the spatial and temporal patterns of timber production and carbon sequestration by using the spatial version of the model and applying advanced spatial analyses techniques. The second objective was to help close the gap between environmental research and forest management, by setting a strategic framework for a process-based tool for sustainable ecosystem management. The thesis demonstrated the procedures for a site classification scheme based on modelling results and a yield table validation procedure, which can provide a way forward in supporting policies for forest management and ensuring their continued existence in the face of the present and future challenges.