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Country Forests: Fires show the short term of forests as carbon sinks

Country Forests: Fires show the short term of forests as carbon sinks

This is an editorial written by the editorial writers at Land Lantbruk. Land Lantbruk is one of the member newspapers of the LRF and is politically independent.

The summer was not long, hot and dry As forecasts indicated. Rather, it became two parts, the first part was very dry and warm, while the second part became damp and cold.
For the forester, this means that we avoided stressed trees with consequences for many years to come, such as after the drought in 2018. The scale of the spruce bark beetle attacks remains to be summed up, but in any case it was significant. Smaller than it would have been if the drought and heat had continued.

We discuss the weather forecast Forest-related weather events are a fairly recent phenomenon. Of course, the forest is always affected by the weather, but the extreme weather events that clearly affected the forest were nonetheless unusual. Now, a few decades ago, we had Gudrun, many big fires and severe droughts. The fact that the spruce bark beetle became widespread after a drought in 2018 also means that more natural variations in hot or cold summers can be of great interest to a forest owner.

During the hot and dry part In the summer, we had some wildfires, but they could have been brought under control very quickly. Without checking whether there are any scientific facts, I venture to guess that the forest burned less than it did during the time when people were unaffected. The natural forest contains a lot of dry and dead wood that can ignite, for example, in a lightning strike. Since no one is trying to contain the fire, wildfires can get very large.

An example of what could happen We saw it in Canada during the year. There are extensive forests, but in such a large and partly inaccessible country there are also large areas relatively unaffected by humans. Since March, there have been thousands of forest fires, and as of the beginning of August, 13 million hectares have burned. This corresponds to approximately half of Sweden’s forest area.

For the forest acts as a carbon sink It was a disaster. The fires released 290 million tons of carbon dioxide, and to understand their size, it can be noted that emissions from all sources in Sweden amounted to 45 million tons in 2022. The Canadian forest accounted for a quarter of the entire world’s emissions in 2023.

Fires in Canada It is also an example of a short-term use of a forest as a carbon store. As a forest begins to age it does not bind more carbon, but there is a balance where natural decomposition and fire release as much carbon as growing trees bind.

The then President of the United States, Donald Trump He made a famous remark about the fires in California after a visit to Finland. He believed that, as in Finland, the forests should be cleared better. What he has already seen is active boreal forests reducing fires and benefiting the climate.

Knut Pearson