Global forest products markets and forest sector carbon impacts of projected sea level rise


Sea level rise (SLR) is among the climate-change-related problems of greatest concern, threatening the lives and property of coastal residents and generating far-reaching economic and ecological impacts. We project that SLR will lead to an increase in the rate of new housing construction to replace destroyed structures, impact global wood products supply and demand conditions, and cause changes in global forest sector carbon mitigation potential. Findings indicate that 71 million new units will be built by 2050 to accommodate the SLR-affected global population. More than two-thirds of these new units are projected to be in Asia. The estimated extra wood products needed to build these new residential units is 1,659 million m3, assuming that all these structures would be built mainly with wood, representing a 4 % increase in total wood consumption, compared to projected reference level global wood products consumption. Increased timber removals to meet this higher construction wood demand (alternative scenario) is shown to deplete global forest carbon by 2 % by 2050 compared to the reference scenario. However, all such projected declines in forest biomass carbon could be more than offset by increased carbon sequestration in harvested wood products, avoided emissions due to substitution of wood for non-wood materials in construction, and biomass regrowth on forestland by 2050, with an estimated net emissions reduction benefit of 0.47 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood used in SLR-related new houses over 30 years. The global net emissions reduction benefit increased to 2.13 tCO2e/tCO2e of extra wood when price-induced changes in forest land area were included.

  • Citation: Nepal, Prakash; Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Joyce, Linda A.; Skog, Kenneth E. 2022. Global forest products markets and forest sector carbon impacts of projected sea level rise. Global Environmental Change. 77: 102611.
  • Keywords: Housing, climate, forest products, net carbon emissions, displacement factor
  • Posted Date: November 2, 2022
  • Modified Date: November 3, 2022
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.