Current issue: 53(4)
The carbon reservoir of ecosystems was estimated based on field measurements for forests and peatlands on an area in Finland covering 263,000 km2 and extending about 900 km across the boreal zone from south to north. More than two thirds of the reservoir was in peat, and less than ten per cent in trees. Forest ecosystems growing on mineral soils covering 144,000 km2 contained 10–11 kg C m-2 on an average, including both vegetation (3.4 kg C m-2) and soil (uppermost 75 cm; 7.2 kg C m-2). Mire ecosystems covering 65,000 km2 contained an average of 72 kg C m-2 as peat. For the landscape consisting of peatlands, closed and open forests, and inland water, excluding arable and built-up land, a reservoir of 24.6 kg C m-2 was observed. This includes the peat, forest soil and tree biomass. This is an underestimate of the true total reservoir, because there are additional unknown reservoirs in deep soil, lake sediments, woody debris, and ground vegetation. Geographic distributions of the reservoirs were described, analysed and discussed. The highest reservoir, 35–40 kg C m-2, was observed in sub-regions in central western and north western Finland. Many estimates given for the boreal carbon reservoirs have been higher than those of ours. Either the Finnish environment contains less carbon per unit area than the rest of the boreal zone, or the global boreal reservoir has earlier been overestimated. In order to reduce uncertainties of the global estimates, statistically representative measurements are needed especially on Russian and Canadian peatlands.