Resources Article

The Future of Trees: Climate Change and the Timber Industry

Apr 14, 2010 | Roger A. Sedjo

With global warming will come large-scale changes to Earth’s forests. In the Winter/Spring issue of Resources, RFF Senior Fellow Roger A. Sedjo examines what these changes will look like and what they will mean for the forest industry.

The most dramatic changes are expected to occur in higher latitudes, with temperate forests moving into boreal regions and boreal forests replacing up to 50 percent of today’s frozen tundra areas. Increased levels of CO2 are expected to spur tree growth, boosting timber harvests up to 6 percent in 2050.

Data derived from two prominent climate models finds that timber will be significantly more abundant than in the absence of climate change, possibly lowering wood prices. Geographic areas of production are expected to shift with temperature patterns, likely leading some forest managers to convert natural acreage to planted forests. Adaptation measures may be costly, but production increases could offset these impacts.