Estimating global land system impacts of timber plantations using MAgPIE 4.3.5

Mishra, Abhijeet; Humpenöder, Florian; Dietrich, Jan Philipp; Bodirsky, Benjamin Leon; Sohngen, Brent; P. O. Reyer, Christopher; Lotze-Campen, Hermann; Popp, Alexander

Out of 1150 inline-formulaMha (million hectares) of forest designated primarily for production purposes in 2020, plantations accounted for 11 % (131 inline-formulaMha) of this area and fulfilled more than 33 % of the global industrial roundwood demand. However, adding additional timber plantations to meet increasing timber demand intensifies competition for scarce land resources between different land uses such as food, feed, livestock and timber production. Despite the significance of plantations with respect to roundwood production, their importance in meeting the long-term timber demand and the implications of plantation expansion for overall land-use dynamics have not been studied in detail, in particular regarding the competition for land between agriculture and forestry in existing land-use models.

This paper describes the extension of the modular, open-source land system Model of Agricultural Production and its Impact on the Environment (MAgPIE) using a detailed representation of forest land, timber production and timber demand dynamics. These extensions allow for a better understanding of the land-use dynamics (including competition for land) and the associated land-use change emissions of timber production.

We show that the spatial cropland patterns differ when timber production is accounted for, indicating that timber plantations compete with cropland for the same scarce land resources. When plantations are established on cropland, it causes cropland expansion and deforestation elsewhere. Using the exogenous extrapolation of historical roundwood production from plantations, future timber demand and plantation rotation lengths, we model the future spatial expansion of forest plantations. As a result of increasing timber demand, we show a 177 % increase in plantation area by the end of the century (inline-formula+171 inline-formulaMha in 1995–2100). We also observe (in our model results) that the increasing demand for timber amplifies the scarcity of land, which is indicated by shifting agricultural land-use patterns and increasing yields from cropland compared with a case without forestry. Through the inclusion of new forest plantation and natural forest dynamics, our estimates of land-related inline-formulaCO2 emissions better match with observed data, in particular the gross land-use change emissions and carbon uptake (via regrowth), reflecting higher deforestation with the expansion of managed land and timber production as well as higher regrowth in natural forests and plantations.

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Mishra, Abhijeet / Humpenöder, Florian / Dietrich, Jan Philipp / et al: Estimating global land system impacts of timber plantations using MAgPIE 4.3.5. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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