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Sustainable Northern Conifer Forest Management Stores More Carbon than Exploitative Harvesting

Photo of Well-managed northern conifer forests were found to store more carbon than those that have been exploitatively harvested. Laura Kenefic, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Well-managed northern conifer forests were found to store more carbon than those that have been exploitatively harvested. Laura Kenefic, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Snapshot : An important part of climate change mitigation is carbon storage in forests and wood products. Yet managers are often uncertain about which management approaches maximize carbon storage. New findings from long-term research in northern conifers in Maine reveal that sustainable forest management results in greater carbon storage than exploitative harvesting.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kenefic, Laura S. Rustad, Lindsey
Kolka, Randy 
Research Location : Penobscot Experimental Forest, Maine
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1177

Summary

Concerns about climate change have increased interest in developing forest management strategies to maximize carbon storage. Forest Service and University of Maine researchers evaluated total ecosystem and harvested wood carbon stocks among alternative forest management approaches (even-aged silviculture, uneven-aged silviculture, high grading, and no management) in mixed-species conifer-dominated stands in Maine. Researchers measured ecosystem carbon pools (live trees, dead wood, understory plants, and soils) and used long-term data to determine carbon stored in belowground dead roots, landfills, and harvested wood products. Though carbon storage was greatest in unmanaged stands, carbon storage differed among harvested stands. High grading (harvesting only commercially valuable trees) resulted in less carbon storage after half a century compared to either even- or uneven-aged silvicultural treatments. Findings highlight the impacts of forest management strategies on carbon storage and indicate that the type of harvest, including species and sizes of trees removed, influences the amount of carbon stored. In working northern conifer forests, sustainable forest management results in more carbon storage than exploitative cutting.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Maine

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