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Biodiversity, carbon storage and dynamics of old northern forests

image of Biodiversity, carbon storage and dynamics of old northern forests

Forests play a key role in the global climate system. The Nordic countries have extensive forests with large and growing tree biomass that captures substantial amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Nordic forests are also important for biodiversity, with complex ecosystems providing habitats for about half of all known native species and threatened species in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Forests also supply the basis for the economically important forest sector. In this report we review current knowledge on the role of old forests in the carbon cycle, their natural dynamics and importance for biodiversity. Based on evidence in the literature, it is clear that old forests continue to accumulate carbon for a long time, well past the normal logging age. The carbon uptake of old forests represents an important co-benefit for the well-documented value of old forests for biodiversity.

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Nordic forests

The purpose of this chapter is to give an overview of forests in the Nordic countries, as a framework for the discussion of the roles of forests as custodians of biodiversity as well as important components of the global carbon cycle. This includes a presentation of natural forests as dynamic ecosystems with important properties for biodiversity and carbon dynamics, as well as the effects of the varied human influences on the forest ecosystems up through the ages. Finally, we present some of the ways forests are classified in order to get a better overview of the variation in forest properties for more effective research and management.

English

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