20 May 2019 - 21 May 2019
Stockholm, Sweden
Host: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

IBFRA Insights and the present and future of C sink strength of boreal forests and the role of forest management.



The boreal forests are almost equal in size to the tropical forests. These two huge biomes play very significant roles in the global C balance, but the tropical forests have received far more attention because of greater human populations, rapid land-use changes and more acute biodiversity issues.

As regards boreal forests, several studies based on temporal and spatial variations in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (atmospheric inversions) indicate that they are a large net sink for CO2. Moreover, satellite sensors have picked up an earlier spring “greening” of high-latitude vegetation suggesting the possibility of greater plant growth, which is corroborated by a trend of increasing inter-annual amplitude in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over high latitudes. In countries with active forest management over much of the area, like Finland and Sweden, there have been remarkable increases in growing stock and growth the last century, which have been ascribed to both environmental change and management.

However, there are contrasting views on the present and future C sink strength of boreal forests and especially on the role of forest management in this context. This lack of scientific consensus was heightened by the International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA), when ministers from the six major boreal countries (Russia, Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland and Norway) met in Haparanda, Sweden, in June 2018. As a result, the ministers invited IBFRA to assist in enhancing science to policy linkages.

This workshop in Stockholm aims at launching, scoping and coordinating the IBFRA Insight Process on Boreal Forest Management by addressing the following question:

  • How large is the boreal forest C sink?
  • Is there any trend in the boreal forest C sink?
  • Is there a difference in C balance between managed and unmanaged forests?
  • Is there a difference in C balance between rotational forestry and continuous‐cover‐forestry?
  • What is the role of disturbances like fire and insect outbreaks for the boreal forest C balance?
  • Are there fundamental differences in the boreal forest C balance between regions, countries or continents?
  • What are the contributions of C storage in harvested wood products and substitution for fossil C and concrete to the C balance?
  • Are emissions of other greenhouse gases from boreal forests of significance to the global greenhouse gases, GHG, balance?

IIASA’s CLR Centre Head and Deputy ESM Program Director Florian Kraxner will be participating in his role as IBFRA President. ESM- CLR researchers Anatoly Shvidenko and Dmitry Shchepashchenko will be joining to provide their expertise on Russian boreal forests areas. The outcome of the workshop will shape and inform the future IBFRA Insight Process.


Text adapted from Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

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Last edited: 22 November 2019


Florian Kraxner

Research Group Leader



and Ecosystem Services Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 233

Anatoly Shvidenko

Emeritus Research Scholar



and Ecosystem Services Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 497

Dmitry Shchepashchenko

Senior Research Scholar



and Ecosystem Services Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 453

Additional Information


Steidinger, B. S., Crowther, T. W., Liang, J., Van Nuland, M. E., Werner, G. D. A., Reich, P. B., Nabuurs, G., de-Miguel, S., et al. (2019). Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest-tree symbioses. Nature 569 (7756), 404-408. 10.1038/s41586-019-1128-0.

Kraxner, F., Schepaschenko, D. , Fuss, S., Lunnan, A., Kindermann, G. , Aoki, K., Dürauer, M., Shvidenko, A., et al. (2017). Mapping certified forests for sustainable management - A global tool for information improvement through participatory and collaborative mapping. Forest Policy and Economics 83, 10-18. 10.1016/j.forpol.2017.04.014.

Lappalainen, H.K., Kerminen, V.-M., Petäjä, T., Kurten, T., Baklanov, A., Shvidenko, A., Bäck, J., Vihma, T., et al. (2016). Pan-Eurasian Experiment (PEEX): Towards holistic understanding of the feedbacks and interactions in the land-atmosphere-ocean-society continuum in the Northern Eurasian region. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions 16, 14421-14461. 10.5194/acp-2016-186.

Gauthier, S., Bernier, P., Kuuluvainen, T., Shvidenko, A.Z., & Schepaschenko, D.G. (2015). Boreal forest health and global change. Science 349 (6250), 819-822. 10.1126/science.aaa9092.

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