Effect of age and disturbance on decadal changes in carbon stocks in managed forest landscapes in central Canada

  • Michael T. Ter-Mikaelian
  • Stephen J. Colombo
  • Jiaxin Chen
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11027-013-9460-4

Cite this article as:
Ter-Mikaelian, M.T., Colombo, S.J. & Chen, J. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2014) 19: 1063. doi:10.1007/s11027-013-9460-4

Abstract

Forests have the potential to be a sink in the global carbon (C) budget and thus play an important role in mitigating climate change. However, large-scale management of forests to their sink potential requires understanding of factors responsible for changes in forest C stocks. In this paper, we quantify the effects of initial forest landscape condition and disturbance rates on landscape-level changes in forest C stocks using predictions for managed forests in Ontario, Canada. Ten-year changes in C stocks in public forests managed for wood fibre production were simulated under four scenarios reflecting the range of volume harvested between 1998 and 2007. Changes in forest C stocks varied across Ontario and with harvest rate, resulting in the forest ranging from being a source of 0.767 tC ha-1 year−1 to a sink of 0.656 tC ha−1 year−1. Simulation results were used to develop a predictive equation explaining over 93 % of the variation in forest C stocks. Variables included in the equation, in descending order of their effect on changes in forest C stocks, were relative harvest rate, forest growth rate, natural disturbance rate, and initial forest C stocks. A reduced equation, including only the first three variables, explained nearly 89 % of the variation in forest C stocks. The results indicate that short-term changes in C stocks depend on initial forest condition and that there are limits to how much these changes can be manipulated by altering harvest and disturbance rates.

Keywords

Forest carbon Forest age Forest growth Forest harvest Carbon sink 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Ter-Mikaelian
    • 1
  • Stephen J. Colombo
    • 1
  • Jiaxin Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Ontario Forest Research InstituteMinistry of Natural ResourcesSault Ste. MarieCanada

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