French forests exhibit the fastest relative changes across Europe. Growing stock increases faster than area, and is greatest in low-stocked private broadleaved forests. Past areal increases and current GS levels show positive effects on GS expansion, with GS increases hence expected to persist.
Context Strong increases in growing stocks (GS) of European forests for decades remain poorly understood and of unknown duration. French forests showing the greatest relative changes across Europe form the investigated case study.
Aims The magnitudes of net area, GS, and GS density (GSD) changes were evaluated across forest categories reflecting forest policy and land-use drivers. The roles of forest areal changes, GS and GSD levels on GS changes were investigated.
Methods National Forest Inventory data were used to produce time series of area, GS and GSD across forest categories over 1976–2014, and exploratory causal models of GS changes.
Results GS (+ 57%) increased three times faster than area, highlighting an advanced stage in the forest transition. Low-stocked private forests exhibited strong changes in GS/GSD, greatest in private broadleaved forests, stressing the contribution of returning forests on abandoned lands. Regression models demonstrated positive effects of both past areal increases and current GS, on GS expansion.
Conclusion Aerial C-sink in French forests is expected to persist in future decades.
Forest transition; Forest expansion; National forest inventory; Area; Returning forests; Carbon stock
Bontemps, J., Denardou, A., Hervé, J. et al. Unprecedented pluri-decennial increase in the growing stock of French forests is persistent and dominated by private broadleaved forests. Annals of Forest Science 77, 98 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-01003-6
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The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Data regarding the new forest inventory method 2005–2019 are available publicly at https://inventaire-forestier.ign.fr/