Projecting global and regional outlooks for planted forests under the shared socio-economic pathways
There is rising global interest in growing more trees in order to meet growing population, climate change, and wood energy needs. Using recently published data on planted forests by country, we estimated relationships between per capita income and planted forest area that are useful for understanding prospective planted forest area futures through 2100 under various United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-inspired Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs). Under all SSPs, projections indicate increasing global planted forest area trends for the next three to four decades and declining trends thereafter, commensurate with the quadratic functions employed. Our projections indicate somewhat less total future planted forest area than prior linear forecasts. Compared to 293 million ha (Mha) of planted forests globally in 2015, SSP5 (a vision of a wealthier world) projects the largest increase (to 334 Mha, a 14% gain) by 2055, followed by SSP2 (a continuation of historical socio-economic trends, to 327 Mha, or an 11% gain), and SSP3 (a vision of a poorer world, to 319 Mha, a 9% gain). The projected trends for major world regions differ from global trends, consistent with difering socio-economic development trajectories in those regions. Our projections based on empirical FAO data for the past 25 years, as well as those by other researchers, suggest that achieving the much more ambitious global planted forest targets proposed recently will require exceptional forest land and investment supply shifts.