Study finds clear-cutting destabilizes carbon

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Study finds clear-cutting destabilizes carbon

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:49 pm

Dartmouth study finds clear-cutting destabilizes carbon in northern hardwood forest soils ... 041516.php
Clear-cutting destabilizes carbon in forest soils, Dartmouth study finds
"Clear-cutting forests has an effect of mobilizing the carbon, making it more likely to leave the soil and end up in the atmosphere," says senior author Andrew Friedland, a professor of environmental studies. ... 99634.aspx
Lacroix, E., Et al. 2016. “Evidence for Losses From Strongly Bound SOM Pools After Clear Cutting in a Northern Hardwood Forest.” Soil Science.
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Re: Study finds clear-cutting destabilizes carbon

Post by Joe » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:59 pm

The journal article says, "With the increasing utilization of biomass as a "C-neutral" form of energy in the United States, these forests are susceptible to clear cutting and large losses of soil organic matter (SOM) to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2)."

Even if one believes that biomass is c-neutral- that theory doesn't justify clear cutting. There just is no logic connecting the two. Leaving good "growing stock" to grow timber value almost always justifies NOT clear cutting, even if some biomass is removed as part of the harvest. Clear cutting may occur with other justifications- if it can be shown that a certain forest being clearcut may enhance wildlife- that is, a carefully designed clear cut due to special local conditions. Or, it may be that a stand is in bad shape from past high grading so there are few good "growing stock" trees worth leaving- if the goal is long term silviculture.

So, the critics of biomass are wrong if they think there is a connection- just because they see a lot of clear cutting in the far north and far south. And those who do such clear cutting can't use the c-neutral argument as a justification because that would be false.

And that's even if it's true that biomass is c-netural, which is really isn't in the short term, though it may be in the medium or long term- and it may be c-positive in the long term if the silviculturally enhanced forest is more vigorous.

The biomass policy debates are very, very complex. Here in Mass., the battle rages on- and I'm in the middle of it.

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Re: Study finds clear-cutting destabilizes carbon

Post by dbhguru » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:12 pm


What makes clear cutting such a loaded issue here in the Northeast for people in the environmental community is that those in the timber community who loudly promote clear cutting as being carbon neutral have no real intention of following through with good silvicultural practices thereafter to make it happen. Who knows what the situation will be 40 to 50 years from now on a piece of land that gets clear cut today. If history holds true, just as soon as the growing stock accrues a little economic value, it will get whacked again. Those promoting clear cutting as being carbon neutral invoke corporate pseudo-science, and simply flat out lie about their intentions.

We have the small percentage, which certainly includes you, of silviculturists who earnestly try to do a good balancing act, i.e. do what is right for forest health from an economic standpoint while paying attention to biodiversity and ecological imperatives - and you fully intend to follow this prescription with long term vision. Your approach can include a variety of silvicultural prescriptions, including as you point out, a little clear cutting - as a last choice. But alas, we have the remaining practitioners, the loud majority who constantly milk our woodlands for all their worth until they're worth nothing and then promote the notion that the problem was created by pesky environmentalists not allowing them to do their job. An example of this is the fuss made over the explosion of red maple in the Northeast as addressed in the mid-1990s and attributed to a lack of forest management as opposed to the real reason - rampant high grading.

In less direct ways than you, I find myself caught in the maelstrom. Environmentalists, whom I know, are set to resist virtually any forest management on public lands, while on the other side, DCR may cave into the timber lobby by failing to require (and explain to the public) truly good long term forestry. Like Yogi used to say it's deja vu all over again. As you know, the prescription for Massachusetts woodlands is part actively managed forests, partly reserves, and partly parks. If DCR would just promote good long term, sustainable forestry on the lands to be actively managed, a new era of good public forestry woukd be ushered in. Hopefully, the environmental community would then come on board to support DCR, but, I'm not holding my breath.

Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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