Forest management effects on above ground carbon storage in Vermont’s forest ecosystems
Forests play an important role in carbon storage, with those in the United States currently sequestering 10% of our annual CO2 emissions (Birdsey et al., 2006). There is a direct link between carbon storage and sequestration in above ground forest biomass (live trees, dead standing trees, downed wood, etc.). Vermont’s hardwood forests offer multiple opportunities for ecologic and economic resources through a variety of silvicultural practices, including carbon sequestration and storage. The Vermont Forest Ecosystem Management Demonstration Project (FEMDP), initiated in 2001, has been testing the effects of disturbance-based forestry practices on the multitude of functions provided by our northeastern hardwood forests. These include biodiversity and ecological functions, carbon storage, and timber harvest (Keeton 2006). FEMDP has been testing hypotheses on the effects of a variety of silvicultural practices in plots located in the Jericho Research and Mount Mansfield Research Forests.
One hypothesis tested and proved by FEMDP is related to an experimental and new silvicultural practice, “Structural Complexity Enhancement” (SCE), designed to promote old-growth late-successional stand development in northeastern hardwood forests (Keeton 2006). The FMDEP hypothesized that by promoting conditions similar to a natural disturbance in the forest ecosystem through the SCE treatment method (creating gaps in the forest canopy, leaving downed wood, creating tip-up mounds) while still removing some harvestable timber, this would have the greatest effect on forest biomass and horizontal and vertical forest stand structure, promoting old-growth forest characteristics. There are multiple benefits to habitat and stand structure provided by old-growth forests. Prior to the 19th century, Lorimer and White (2003) estimate 70-89% of the forests in the northeast were old-growth (Keeton 2006).
For my project I intend to use Dinamica-EGO to compare the effects of the different types of silvicultural treatments on Carbon storage in above ground forest biomass utilized in the Vermont Forest Ecosystem Management Demonstration Project (FEMDP). The treatments I will be comparing are conventional tree removal (single-tree and group selection), SCE (Structural Complexity Enhancement), and a control (no treatment or tree removal). It is necessary to span one full harvest cycle to be able to quantify mean C sequestration under a certain forest management scenario (Nunery, J.S. 2010). I will therefore use Dinamica to simulate a harvest for each independent silvicultural treatment to determine C storage in above ground biomass for each treatment and then compare the three. I will do this independently for the Jericho and Mount Mansfield Research Forests and then combine and compare these results as well.
Below is a sample diagram of my rough idea for my Dinamica model. I plan to use forest inventory data from the most recent years available for FEMDP to determine above ground carbon storage in biomass for each treatment. The goal of comparing the amount of carbon stored in biomass in the different treatment areas is to help guide management decisions for carbon storage, ecological functions, and silviculture practices for northern hardwood forests.
Rough Dinamica-EGO Model Outlines - Jericho/Mount Mansfield Research Forests
*These are very preliminary ideas for my models, subject to change!
Birdsey, R.A., Jenkins, J.C., Johnston, M., Huber-Sannwald, E., Amero, B., Jong, B.d., Barra, J.D.E., French, N., Garcia-Oliva, F., Harmon, M., Heath, L.S., Jaramillo, V.J., Johnsen, K., Law, B.E., Marı ́n-Spiotta, E., Masera, O., Neilson, R., Pan, Y., Pregitzer, K.S., 2007. North American forests. In: King, A.W., Dilling, L., Zimmerman, G.P., Fairman, D.M., Houghton, R.A., Marland, G., Rose, A.Z., Wilbanks, T.J. (Eds.), The First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle. The First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research Asheville, NC, USA, pp. 117–126.
Keeton, W.S. 2006. Managing for late-successional/old-growth characteristics in northern hardwood- conifer forests. Forest Ecology and Management 235. 129-142.
Lorimer, C.G., White, A.S., 2003. Scale and frequency of natural disturbances in the northeastern U.S., implications fore early-successional forest habitats and regional age distributions. For. Ecol. Manage. 185, 41–64.
Nunery, J. S. and Keeton, W.S. 2010. Forest carbon storage in northeastern United States: Net effects of harvesting frequency, post-harvest retention, and wood products. Forest Ecology and Management 259. 1363-1375.