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Wildfires: Forest Management Impact on Above- and Belowground Ecosystem Recovery

In 2018, Sweden saw its most extreme wildfire season in modern history. Climate warming is predicted to increase the frequency of extreme fire seasons, yet knowledge on fire impacts on the Eurasian forests and their feedback on climate is scarce, particularly for early post-fire regeneration years. This creates a large uncertainty in carbon budgets, impairs climate model predictions and undermines identification of post-fire management that best supports Swedish climate targets and the Paris Agreement. 

We address these gaps by examining Sweden’s largest wildfire of 2018. With BECC guest researcher and Formas funding, we capture effects of common and alternative forest-management approaches on the forest's greenhouse gas (GHG) budget since the critical first post-fire year. This BECC project will considerably extend ongoing research. We link responses across disciplines, from soil microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, micrometeorology to biodiversity, and bridge across spatial scales from microbial growth rates and gross nutrient mineralisation rates to ecosystem GHG emissions and uptake. We quantify the impact of forest management on the "microbial pump", nutrient limitation, nutrient bioavailability, and biodiversity resilience, and relate the findings to soil and ecosystem GHG exchanges to identify key ecological drivers for above- and belowground forest ecosystem recovery.