Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 09.12.2005

Effects of climate change on forests

The development of global climate change and the scenarios relating to its progress and the bio-geochemical processes in forested areas constitute the essential basis for discussions concerning the effects that the climate change will have on forest development and forest ecosystems. Phenomena relating to climate change, such as changes in ambient temperatures, precipitation, gas composition and UV radiation in the atmosphere, have a strong effect on the growth environment in forests. A recently published research report by Metla "The climate is changing - how do the forests adapt?" deals with the effects of the climate change on forests and predictions for the future.

The report deals with climate change scenarios in Finland, the biological processes that take place in forest trees due to climate changes, the growth of broad-leaved trees in the boreal forest zone in future climatic conditions, the effects of the climate changes on the forest tree structure and chemistry as well as on the structure and function of forest ecosystems.

In addition to climatic warming, the climate change involves several other stress factors relating to plants; we need to know the functional mechanisms at the cell level and the effects on plant physiology and growth before we can make any wider predictions about the climate change. The climate change also affects the incidence of forest damage and diseases. Warming, as well as changes in precipitation, may increase plants' susceptibility to different types of damage caused by animals, insects, and pathogens. The climate change and the various related stress factors are reflected in the height growth of forest trees, timber production, and silvicultural methods.

The publication was compiled using materials presented in the seminar arranged in 2004. The book contains 12 articles by several experts from Finland; many of the authors have participated in national multidisciplinary research projects that focus on climate change, such as SILMU and FIGARE programmes. The seminar was arranged by Metla's Suonenjoki research unit and the University of Kuopio, and it was funded by the Metsämiesten Säätiö Foundation.

Publication: Riikonen, Johanna & Elina Vapaavuori (eds.): Ilmasto muuttuu - mukautuvatko metsät (The climate is changing - how do the forests adapt?). Metla's Research Reports series 944, 2005. (In Finnish).

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