Effects of Land-Use Change on Carbon Stocks in Switzerland

Bolliger, Janine; Hagedorn, Frank; Leifeld, Jens; Böhl, Jürgen; Zimmermann, Stephan; Soliva, Reto; Kienast, Felix
September 2008
Ecosystems;Sep2008, Vol. 11 Issue 6, p895
Academic Journal
We assessed how consequences of future land-use change may affect size and spatial shifts of C stocks under three potential trends in policy—(a) business-as-usual: continuation of land-use trends observed during the past 15 years; (b) extensification: full extensification of open-land; and (c) liberalization: full reforestation potential. The build-up times for the three scenarios are estimated at 30, 80 and 100 years, respectively. Potential C-stock change rates are derived from the literature. Whereas the business-as-usual scenario would cause marginal changes of 0.5%, liberalization would provoke a 13% increase in C stocks (+62 MtC). Gains of 24% would be expected for forests (+95 MtC), whereas open-land C stock would decrease 27% (−33 MtC). Extensification would lead to a C stock decrease of 3% (−12 MtC). Whereas forest C is expected to increase 12% (+36.5 MtC) at high elevations, stocks of open-land C would decline 38.5% (−48.5 MtC). Most affected are unfavorable grasslands, which increase in area (+59%) but contribute only 14.5% to the C stocks. C sinks would amount to 0.6 MtC y−1 assuming a build-up time of 100 years for the liberalization scenario. C stocks on the current forest area are increasing by 1 MtC y−1. The maximal total C sink of 1.6 MtC might thus suffice to compensate for agricultural greenhouse gases (2004: 1.4 Mt CO2–C equivalents), but corresponds only to 11–13% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission in Switzerland. Thus, even the largest of the expected terrestrial C stocks under liberalization will be small in comparison with current emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.


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