Conservation and Global Issues

The boreal forest represents the single largest pool ofliving biomass on the terrestrial surface (more than 30% of the total terrestrial pool), and is therefore critically important in global carbon dynamics. Much of the carbon is stored in the ground layer. Currently, the taiga is thought to act as a net sink of carbon. However, global climate change, in the form of higher temperatures, may cause significant changes in the carbon dynamics by increasing decomposition rates faster than photosynthetic rates. Fire frequencies may also increase with temperature, as precipitation is not expected to rise, which will further increase the release of carbon stored in the ground layer. According to some studies, the boreal forest will be a net contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere under the projected climate changes.

Climate-induced changes in the boreal forest will also have an impact on migrant birds that use the region for reproduction. Changes in tree species composition may challenge the capacity of birds to adapt, as has already the increasing fragmentation of the forest due to clear-cutting in many areas within the biome.

See also: Tundra.

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