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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Environmental Models, Modules, and Datasets

Spatiotemporal Assessment of Forest Biomass Carbon Sinks: The Relative Roles of Forest Expansion and Growth in Sichuan Province, China


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 46 No. 1, p. 64-71
    Received: July 11, 2016
    Accepted: Oct 16, 2016
    Published: December 8, 2016

    * Corresponding author(s): renqiangli@igsnrr.ac.cn
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  1. Renqiang Li *a,
  2. Shujie Zhaob,
  3. Haifeng Zhaoa,
  4. Ming Xu *c,
  5. Liyun Zhanga,
  6. Hui Wend and
  7. Qingkai Shenga
  1. a Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Road, Beijing, 100101, China
    b Central Univ. of Finance and Economics, 39 South College Road, Beijing, 100081, China
    c Dep. of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA
    d College of Urban and Environmental Science, Peking Univ., 5 Yiheyuan Road, Beijing, 100871, China
Core Ideas:
  • Accurate estimation of spatiotemporal patterns of forest C sinks is crucial to sustainable forest management.
  • We integrated individual tree biomass equations and a random forest algorithm.
  • A spatially explicit map of C density allows comparisons among different subregions.
  • We quantified the relative contributions of forest expansion and growth to biomass C sinks.
  • A new forestry mode is needed to maintain the long-term health of forest ecosystems in Sichuan Province.


Spatiotemporal patterns of forest carbon (C) sinks and accurate estimation of such patterns are crucial to sustainable forest management. We combined individual tree biomass equations and a Random Forest algorithm to assess the spatiotemporal changes in biomass C sequestration and to further quantify the relative contributions of forest areal expansion and growth to biomass C sinks in Sichuan Province, China, over the past 25 yr. Forest area and average biomass C density increased from 10.5 million ha and 45.7 Mg C ha−1 in 1988 to 14.2 million ha and 52.3 Mg C ha−1 in 2012. Average C density was generally larger in the north and west of Sichuan Province compared with other regions. The expanded forest area and enhanced C density have jointly led to a rise in total C storage by 54.9% over this period in Sichuan Province. It was estimated that the forest areal expansion has been a larger contributor to C sinks than forest growth in Sichuan Province (69 vs. 31%), especially in the regions of the northwestern high mountains and the hilly country of the Sichuan basin. However, the relative contributions of areal expansion exhibited different trends in five subregions and 15 forest species groups in this province. Our study suggests that it is necessary to develop a new forestry management mode to maintain the long-term health of forest ecosystems in Sichuan Province, which should attach more importance to improving forest quality and selecting tree species in different subregions while increasing forested area in the future.

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Copyright © 2016. Copyright © by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, Inc.