Spatial and temporal patterns of plantation forests in the United States since the 1930s: an annual and gridded data set for regional Earth system modeling
- 1International Center for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA
- 2School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA
Abstract. Plantation forest area in the conterminous United States (CONUS) ranked second among the world's nations in the land area apportioned to forest plantation. As compared to the naturally regenerated forests, plantation forests demonstrate significant differences in biophysical characteristics, and biogeochemical and hydrological cycles as a result of more intensive management practices. Inventory data have been reported for multiple time periods on plot, state, and regional scales across the CONUS, but the requisite annual and spatially explicit plantation data set over a long-term period for analysis of the role of plantation management on regional or national scales is lacking. Through synthesis of multiple inventory data sources, this study developed methods to spatialize the time series plantation forest and tree species distribution data for the CONUS over the 1928–2012 time period. According to this new data set, plantation forest area increased from near zero in the 1930s to 268.27 thousand km2 in 2012, accounting for 8.65 % of the total forestland area in the CONUS. Regionally, the South contained the highest proportion of plantation forests, accounting for about 19.34 % of total forestland area in 2012. This time series and gridded data set developed here can be readily applied in regional Earth system modeling frameworks for assessing the impacts of plantation management practices on forest productivity, carbon and nitrogen stocks, and greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2, CH4, and N2O) and water fluxes on regional or national scales. The gridded plantation distribution and tree species maps, and the interpolated state-level annual tree planting area and plantation area during 1928–2012, are available from https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.873558.