New study investigates optimal forest management approach for climate mitigation

As forests are increasingly being managed to provide climate mitigation benefits through carbon sequestration, new research to be published in the journal Ecological Applications suggests it is important to understand how different ecosystem services respond to alternative management approaches. The study, by Dartmouth College post-doc and S3RCN  Collaborator David Lutz and colleagues, used models to explore tradeoffs between three services under different timber harvesting rotation lengths: delivery of increased carbon storage through reductions in the frequency and intensity of timber harvests, albedo-related radiative forcing, and timber provisioning.

The authors found that the average optimal timber rotation lengths across all sites is 94 years with significant variation in optimal lengths across the state. In particular, they found that shorter rotation lengths may be more appropriate at high elevation sites in the White Mountain National Forest where albedo-related radiative forcing may benefit climate more than carbon storage due to higher snow cover and slower tree growth. The authors suggest it is appropriate to use temperate forests in New Hampshire to help achieve climate mitigation objectives through carbon storage and the cessation of harvest, but that policies and management strategies that seek to maximize climate benefits from forests in New Hampshire should be guided by site specific characteristics.

Funding for the study was provided by the New Hampshire EPSCoR based at the University of New Hampshire.

Read the full article as a preprint in Ecological Applications: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/14-2207.1

See coverage of similar research related to the importance of including albedo radiative-forcings when considering forest benefits to climate:

Nature World News

Northern Woodlands

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