Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Supplement 1, pp S9–S22 | Cite as

Changes in Carbon Storage and Net Carbon Exchange One Year After an Initial Shelterwood Harvest at Howland Forest, ME

  • Neal A. Scott
  • Charles A. Rodrigues
  • Holly Hughes
  • John T. Lee
  • Eric A. Davidson
  • D. Bryan Dail
  • Phil Malerba
  • David Y. Hollinger


Although many forests are actively sequestering carbon, little research has examined the direct effects of forest management practices on carbon sequestration. At the Howland Forest in Maine, USA, we are using eddy covariance and biometric techniques to evaluate changes in carbon storage following a shelterwood cut that removed just under 30% of aboveground biomass. Prior to harvest, the stand contained about 76 Mg C/ha (30 m2/ha basal area) in aboveground and belowground live biomass. Harvesting removed about 15 Mg C/ha (SEM = 2.1) and created about 5.3 Mg C/ha (SEM = 1.1) of aboveground and 5.2 Mg C/ha (SEM = 0.7) of root/stump detritus. Leaf-area index (LAI) and litterfall declined by about 40% with harvest. Approximately half of the harvested wood was used for paper products and half for longer-lived wood products. Eddy covariance measurements in a nearby unharvested stand indicated that net ecosystem exchange (NEE) averages about 1.8 Mg C/ha/year of C sequestration. A comparison of NEE at unharvested and harvested stands, both preharvest and postharvest, indicated that NEE declined following the harvest by about 18%, which is less than expected based on basal area and LAI changes. Soil respiration declined slightly (but nonsignificantly, P = 0.23) with harvest, suggesting no major soil C loss after harvest. When decay of paper and wood products is included in a preliminary carbon budget, we calculate a postharvest net source of C to the atmosphere for at least 5 years, assuming preharvest growth rates of trees. How quickly the carbon balance becomes positive will depend largely on whether postharvest growth rates increase.


Forest management Forest carbon budgets Carbon sequestration Shelterwood cut Howland Forest, Maine 



We thank S. Mike Goltz for helping initiate this work. We are most grateful to Tony Madden, the logging contractor, for all of his assistance throughout the harvest and for providing all the truck weight information. Jeremiah Walsh (University of Maine) contributed to ongoing collection of eddy covariance data. Several undergraduate students from the University of Maine contributed to this work as part of a summer field crew; we specifically thank Amanda Hilton and Mark Hayes for their valuable contributions to this work. Greg Fiske at the Woods Hole Research Center provided GIS-based estimates of the harvest area based on the hand-drawn harvest-plan map. This research was supported by the Office of Science (BER), US Department of Energy, Grant No. DE-FG02-00ER63002 and DE-FC03-90ER61010 (through the Northeast Regional Center of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change) to E. A. Davidson (Woods Hole Research Center) and DE-FG02-00ER63001 and subcontract No. 901214-HAR under DE-FC03- 90ER61010 (through the Northeast Regional Center of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change) to S. M. Goltz and D. Bryan Dail (University of Maine), and by the USDA Forest Service Northern Global Change Program.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the DOE.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neal A. Scott
    • 1
  • Charles A. Rodrigues
    • 2
  • Holly Hughes
    • 1
  • John T. Lee
    • 2
  • Eric A. Davidson
    • 1
  • D. Bryan Dail
    • 2
  • Phil Malerba
    • 3
  • David Y. Hollinger
    • 4
  1. 1.Woods Hole Research CenterP.O. Box 296 Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02536USA
  2. 2.Department of PlantSoil, and Environmental Science University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469USA
  3. 3.International Paper, Augusta, Maine 04330USA
  4. 4.USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station Durham, New Hampshire 03824USA

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