Dynamics of Carbon Pools and Fluxes in Russia's Forest Lands

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  • 1067-4136/05/3605- 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.0291

    Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 36, No. 5, 2005, pp. 291301. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 5, 2005, pp. 323333.Original Russian Text Copyright 2005 by Zamolodchikov, Utkin, Korovin, Chestnykh.

    The Kyoto Protocol has emphasized the importanceof studies on the carbon cycle in boreal forests and thecontribution of these forests to the biosphereatmo-sphere interaction at the regional and global levels. Inmany countries, specialists have determined not onlycarbon pools, but also CO

    2

    sequestering from the atmo-sphere by forests. However, CCO

    2

    sequestering is dif-ficult to estimate in countries that are rich in forests,such as Russia and Canada, where forests occupy vastareas with diverse natural conditions and differ inexploitability and the composition of forest-formingspecies. In Canada, a forest biomass (carbon) inventoryhas been taken for more than 20 years (Bonnor, 1997),carbon budget is improving (Kurz and Apps, 1999), andthe norms and programs of forest research and inven-tory are being developed (

    Climate Change

    , 2002). InRussia, a purposeful inventory of forest biomass (car-bon) has never been made, although forest resourcesand their exploitation are characterized in FAO reportsin terms of woody biomass and its carbon equivalent(

    Forest Resources

    , 2000). Relevant information pub-lished in national reports is fragmentary (

    Vtoroe na-tsionalnoe

    , 1998;

    Trete natsionalnoe

    , 2002;

    Na-tsionalnyi doklad

    , 2002).The purpose of this study is to discuss the state of

    research on the carbon cycle in Russias forest lands.

    STATE OF THE PROBLEMIn ecology, the carbon cycle is considered together

    with the biological cycles of nitrogen and mineral ele-

    ments and energy fluxes over the trophic levels withinthe framework of the problem formulated as the pri-mary biological production of ecosystems. Large-scale studies on this problem were performed between1964 and 1974, when the International Biological Pro-gram (MBP) was implemented, and their results havebeen repeatedly used by researchers. In particular,N.I. Bazilevich compiled written databases on phyto-mass and necromass stocks and generalized these datain a monograph (Bazilevich, 1993). Her studies gainedwide recognition. Today, however, it is considered thatthe type values of the forest phytomass stock presentedin this monograph are almost two times higher than thereal values (Shvidenko

    et al.

    , 2000). Information fromthe MBP provided a basis for other generalizations,such as the computer database Biological Productivityof Forest Ecosystems (Utkin

    et al.

    , 1994) and mono-graphs on forest phytomass in northern Eurasia(Usoltsev, 2001).

    However, MBP data have several disadvantages:(1) the lack of uniformity in covering the stands of for-est-forming species (especially in the northeast ofAsian Russia) and shrub formations; (2) unrepresenta-tive information on differences in the composition, age,density, and some other parameters of tree stands;(3) insufficiency of taxonometric descriptions made insome test areas; (4) a great proportion of results (forapproximately 60% of test areas) obtained using theaverage model tree method; (5) the absence of standard(reference) areas of Russian forest ecosystems with thedetailed assessment of phytomass, production, the

    Dynamics of Carbon Pools and Fluxes in Russias Forest Lands

    D. G. Zamolodchikov*, A. I. Utkin**, G. N. Korovin*, and O. V. Chestnykh***

    *Center for Problems in Forest Ecology and Productivity, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya ul. 84/32, Moscow, 117810 Russia

    **Institute of Forest Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Uspenskoe, Moscow oblast, 143030 Russia

    ***Moscow State University, Vorobevy gory, Moscow, 119992 Russia

    Received December 26, 2003

    Abstract

    The state and results of studies on the carbon cycle of forests on lands of the Russian forest fund(total area 1172

    10

    6

    ha) are analyzed at the federal level. Consideration is given to changes in the areas ofdifferent categories of forest lands, the age structure of stands, the pool and deposition of carbon in the phyto-mass, and the organic carbon pool of soils over the period from 1966 to 1998; the dynamics of activity in theforest industry by years and the extent of pyrogenic transformation of the forest cover between 1990 and 2001;and carbon fluxes associated with forest exploitation, including carbon emission resulting from fires.

    Key words

    : Russias forest lands, phytomass, carbon pools and fluxes, carbon cycle, current problems.

  • 292

    RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

    Vol. 36

    No. 5

    2005

    ZAMOLODCHIKOV

    et al

    .

    amounts of litter and woody debris, etc; and (6) estima-tions of forest phytomass prevail (on average, by a fac-tor of 10) over estimations of net primary production(

    NPP

    ).The above data are usually used to calculate coeffi-

    cients for converting timber volume into the amount ofphytomass:

    k

    =

    Ph

    /

    M

    , where

    Ph

    is phytomass (total orby fractions); t/ha is absolutely dry matter; and

    M

    istimber volume, m

    3

    /ha. Furthermore,

    M = G(HF)

    , and

    Ph

    =

    G

    (

    HF

    ),

    where

    G

    is the sum of stem cross-sectionareas, m

    2

    /ha;

    HF

    is the form height (

    H

    is the averagetree height, and

    F

    is the form factor), which changeswith stand age; and

    is the basic density of wood andbark, t/m

    3

    ; therefore,

    k

    . In Russia, however, thiscondition is fulfilled only in the case of the stems ofmain forest-forming species (Poluboyarinov, 1976;Poluboyarinov and Sorokin, 2000), and only singleestimations of

    for branches and roots are available.Hence, calculations with the conversion factor

    k

    =

    Ph

    /

    M

    are more correct and simple, because

    k

    in thiscase corresponds to the integrated

    value, in whichboth different fractions of tree phytomass and admix-tures of different tree species in the stand are taken intoaccount. In other words,

    k

    int

    , which is the basic den-sity integrated for all phytomass fractions. It is alsopossible to calculate

    k

    for individual phytomassfractions.

    The State Forest Inventory of the Russian Federa-tion (SFI) is a rich source of initial information, but itsdatabases on individual forestries are often inaccessibleto scientists for financial reasons. Conversion factors

    k

    =

    Ph

    /

    M

    have been calculated for individual forest-forming species by age groups (Isaev

    et al.

    , 1995) andwith regard to subzones and forest provinces (Utkin

    et al.

    , 2001) and, in an approximated form, to the age ofstands (Zamolodchikov

    et al.

    , 1998)

    ESTIMATION OF CARBON POOLS IN RUSSIAS FOREST LANDS

    Various approaches, including cartographic, havebeen used to estimate some parameters of the carbonbudget for Russian forests at the regional and nationallevels, and these estimations have been published sincethe early 1990s.

    The available estimates of the carbon pool in forestphytomass concern either the Russian State forestresources (RSFR) or the forest biome as a whole, eitherlands of different categories or forested areas alone(Table 1). The values of carbon pool density estimatedbetween 1993 and 1995 varied broadly: from 24 t C/ha(

    Uglerod v ekosistemakh

    , 1994) to 47, 53, and even62 t C/ha (Kolchugina and Vinson, 1993a, 1993b; Kol-chugina

    et al.

    , 1993). The results obtained between1996 and 2001 became much less diverse due to the useof

    Ph/M

    ratios and information from the SFI. The esti-mated total carbon pool in the phytomass of forests ofthe Russian Federation ranged from 33.1

    10

    9

    t C

    (Shvidenko and Nilsson, 1998) to 37.3

    10

    9

    t C (Shv-idenko

    et al.

    , 2000). Our estimate (35.9

    10

    9

    t C) isapproximately in the middle of this range. The mostrecent estimate is lower: 28

    10

    9

    t C for an area of646

    10

    6

    ha and 34.4

    10

    9

    t C for the total RSFRresources (

    Natsionalnyi doklad

    , 2002).By means of remote sensing, the carbon pool in the

    woody biomass of Russian forests was estimated at24.39

    10

    9

    t C for an area of 642.2

    10

    6

    ha, with itsdensity being 38.0 t C/ha (Myneni

    et al.

    , 2001). Ourestimate for forested lands (774

    10

    6

    ha) is 33.7

    10

    9

    t C at an average density of 43.5 t C/ha. The differ-ence is 30%, with differences in the estimated area offorests (which are confusing) and carbon pool densityaccounting for 17 and 13%, respectively. The values ofthe latter parameter depend on the structure of the phy-tomass that is taken into account. Calculations made byMyneni

    et al.

    (2001) and in

    Forest Resources

    (2000)concern the woody parts of living plants, dead standingtrees, and fallen timber. In our calculations, nonwoodyphytomass fractions are also taken into account. With-out these fractions, the average carbon pool density inRussian forests is estimated at 38.2 t C/ha, compared to38.0 t C/ha in the study by Myneni

    et al.

    (2001). Ingeneral, recent estimates of this parameter made by dif-ferent authors are fairly close, ranging from 30 to35 t C/ha.

    The organic carbon pool of soils in Russia is usuallyestimated for a 1-m layer using large-scale soil maps,detailed classifications of soil types, and data on carbonstocks in typological soil compartments. In the avail-able publications, only Chestnykh

    et al.

    (1999) used forthis purpose information on the structure of RSFRlands and special databases on forest soils. Recent esti-mates of soil organic carbon are shown in Table 2.

    Earlier estimates of carbon pool density in the soilsof Russian forests markedly vary: from 119 t C/ha(

    Uglerod v ekosistemakh

    , 1994) to 224.7 t C/ha (Kol-chugina and Vinson, 1993a, 1993; Kolchugina

    et al.

    ,

    1993), with estimates of the total carbon pool beingabsolutely discordant (Table 2). Recent estimates are asfollows: 246

    10

    9

    t C (Nilsson

    et al.

    , 2000) and 257

    10

    9

    t C (this study), with the difference amounting to11

    10

    9

    t C. The factors responsible for such differ-ences are manifold, which makes the soil carbon pool amajor source of uncertainty in determining the carbonbudget of Russian forests.

    CURRENT STATE OF RESEARCH AND PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE

    Information from the SFI and its processing usingconversion factors

    k = Ph/M

    for forest-forming speciesby age groups of stands, with natural zonality beingtaken into account, allowed a fairly accurate estimationof the carbon pool. This information is available mainlyfrom regularly published reports on forest and landinventories at the national and regional levels (federal

  • RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

    Vol. 36

    No. 5

    2005

    DYNAMICS OF CARBON POOLS AND FLUXES 293

    provinces, economic regions, and administrative unitsof the Russian Federation). In some years, data on thelosses of forests from fires and other factors, the scaleof felling operations, reforestation, etc., are published.State forest and land inventories in Russia are taken bydifferent departments, and data on the area of RSFRlands may differ. The SFI accumulates data on the areasof forests, other land categories (unforested and nonfor-est lands), and stocks of timber for the departments andenterprises involved in the forest industry. Inventoriesof forests managed by individual enterprises are oftenbased on different qualitative criteria, but this informa-tion is integrated at the level of large administrativeunits of the Russian Federation and, at the final stage, ispooled and systematized by the SFI. The resultant dataare published at approximately five-year intervals in astandard format of reference books (

    Lesnoi fond

    ,

    1966, 1976, 1972, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1999). The mostdetailed data concern forests belonging to the FederalAgency of Forestry, Ministry of Natural Resources of

    the Russian Federation, which cover 94% of RSFRlands. The parameters of greatest significance for thecarbon balance are as follows: the areas of different cat-egories of RSFR lands; the distribution of forest areasand growing stocks with respect to forest-forming spe-cies and, subsequently, by age groups; and the averagegrowing stocks calculated on this basis.

    In our calculations, the absolutely dry phytomassincluded all living parts (fractions) of trees: stem woodand bark, branches and annual shoots, roots, and leaves(needles). For phytomass conversion into carbon con-tent, we used factors of 0.5 for woody fractions and0.45 for leaves (needles), herbs, mosses, and lichens.

    Carbon fluxes associated with felling were calcu-lated on the basis of recent statistical data on final,intermediate, and other felling operations (

    Osnovnyenapravleniya

    , 2002;

    Gosudarstvennyi doklad

    ,

    2002, 2003) and information on annual yields of timberby different forest-forming species. The proportions ofthese species in the total harvest in the late 1980s were

    Table 1.

    Phytomass carbon pool in the forests of Russia or the former Soviet Union as estimated by different authors

    Object and year of inventory Method*Area Carbon in forest phytomass

    Source10

    6

    ha 10

    6

    t t/ha

    Forest lands (1988) I 1420 87690 61.8 Kolchugina and Vinson (1993a)The same I 1306 68677 52.6 Kolchugina and Vinson (1993b)

    I 1306 61773 47.3 Kolchugina

    et al.

    (1993)State forest resources (1988) II 1183 41163 34.8 Isaev

    et al.

    (1993)The same III 1183 28750 24.3

    Uglerod v ekosistemakh

    (1994) IV 1183 38632 32.7 Isaev et al. (1993) Va 1183 33300 28.1 Lakida et al., (1997), Shepashenko et al. (1998)

    Forested lands (1993) V 764 32088 42.0 Shvidenko and Nilsson (1997)State forest resources (1993) IV 1181 34400 29.1 Isaev and Korovin (1999)

    The same Va 1181 33056 28.0 Shvidenko and Nillson (1998)Forest lands (1993) Vb 1151 37288 32.4 Shvidenko et al. (2000)Timberlands of all natural zones (1993)

    Vb 764 32862 43.0 Nillson et al. (2000)

    Forests and lands equated to them (1993)

    VI 886 39630 44.7** Forest resources, (2000)

    State forest resources and forests not included in them (1998)

    VII 1179 35625 30.2*** Utkin et al. (2001)

    The same VII 1179 35874 30.4 This paperForest lands (1998) VIII 882 33273 37.7 The same * (I) database on biomass compiled by N.I. Bazilevich and maps with the contours of biomes and large ecosystems; (II) Ph/M ratios

    according to Bazilevichs phytomass database and SFI data; (III) original Ph/M ratios and SFI data; (IV) Ph/M ratios according todatabase compiled by Utkin et al. (1994) and SFI data; (Va) conversion factors depending on age, quality class, and stocking densityand SFI data; (Vb) coefficients Rfr = f(A, SI.RS) and areas of lands determined using GIS; (VI) original Ph/M ratios for above-groundand underground woody parts of conifer and deciduous stands and total timber stocks of these two groups; (VII) Ph/M ratios differ-entiated for subzones and forest provinces and SFI data; (VIII) Ph/M ratios proposed by FAO and SFI data.

    ** Only for woody parts of trees and shrubs, including deadwood suitable for commercial use.*** Phytomass of all tree parts and lower vegetation layers.

  • 294

    RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY Vol. 36 No. 5 2005

    ZAMOLODCHIKOV et al.

    as follows: pine, 28.9%; spruce, fir, and Siberian stonepine, 33.5%; larch, 6.9%; oak and beech, 0.6%; otherhard-wooded deciduous species, 0.4%; birch, 19.9%;and other so...

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