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Impact of timber harvesting on carbon storage in montane forests of central Mexico


Cut stumps are the legacy of forest harvesting and allow for the estimation of carbon loss from the ecosystem. The objective of this study was to estimate aboveground carbon storage and the impact of forest harvesting based on measurements of cut stumps in pine forests within the Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Nevado de Toluca (APFFNT) in the state of México. A total of 1621 circular 0.1-ha sampling plots were established in a 12,924 ha pine forest (1.25% sampling intensity). Biomass was calculated using conventional volumetric equations incorporating species-specific wood densities. Aboveground carbon storage in the biomass was stratified by forest type including dense forest (≥ 336 trees), semi-dense forest (< 335 and > 150 trees), fragmented forest (< 150 and > 20 trees), and stands with isolated trees (< 20 trees). In the 12, 924 ha of forest dominated by Pinus hartwegii, 1,695,004 MgC was contained in aboveground biomass. Data on forest harvesting obtained by analysis of recent cut stumps allowed for the estimation of the removal of 42,701 MgC. In addition, we accounted for carbon in wind thrown trees of 14,904 MgC, some of which were removed over time in harvests. Total loss of carbon from the forest corresponded to 211,218 MgCO2 per year. In the APFFNT, forests dominated by pine with high biomass (P. hartwegii and P. montezumae) are being replaced by those with lower biomass (Alnus jorullensis). Changes in these communities will result in lower carbon capture in the APFFNT.

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The study was funded by the Proyecto CONAFOR-UAEMex 3668/2014E. We express our gratitude to the two Reviewers and the Associate Editor, whose comments and suggestions greatly improve our work. Especially thank Xareni Pacheco for her recommendations to our manuscript. In addition, we would like to acknowledge of the High Mountain Group who assisted with sampling intensive of the forest inventory.

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FRG contributed to conceive the study, data analysis, and discussion of results and wrote the manuscript, TSF contributed to discussion and writing, SVL contributed with the cartographic processing, AREA guided the development of the fieldwork and cabinet methodology and contributed to writing at discussion.

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Correspondence to Angel Rolando Endara Agramont.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Rojas-García, F., Fredericksen, T.S., Vazquez Lozada, S. et al. Impact of timber harvesting on carbon storage in montane forests of central Mexico. New Forests 50, 1043–1061 (2019).

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  • Biomass
  • CO2 emissions
  • Cut stumps
  • Pinus hartwegii
  • Wood volume