Canopy responses of Swedish primary and secondary forests to the 2018 drought

Julika Wolf, Johanna Asch, Feng Tian, Katerina Georgiou, Anders Ahlström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Boreal forest ecosystems are predicted to experience more frequent summer droughts due to climate change, posing a threat to future forest health and carbon sequestration. Forestry is a regionally dominant land use where the managed secondary forests are typically even-aged forests with low structural and tree species diversity. It is not well known if managed secondary forests and unmanaged primary forests respond to drought differently in part because the location of primary, unmanaged, forests has remained largely unknown. Here we employed a unique map detailing over 300 primary forests in Sweden. We studied impacts of the 2018 nationwide drought by extracting and analyzing a high-resolution remote sensing vegetation index over the primary forests and over buffer zones around the primary forests representing secondary forests. We controlled for topographical variations linked to soil moisture, which was a strong determinant of drought responses, and analyzed Landsat-derived EVI2 anomalies during the drought year from a multiyear non-drought baseline. We found that primary forests were less affected by the drought compared to secondary forests. Our results indicate that forestry may exacerbate the impact of drought in a future climate with more frequent and extreme hydroclimatic events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064044
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Climate Research

Free keywords

  • drought
  • land-use
  • primary forests
  • remote sensing
  • Sweden


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