U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Environmental Science & Policy 25 (2013) 22–35; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2012.09.006


The objective of this study was to use an ecosystem process model, Biome-BGC, to explore the effects of different harvest scenarios on major components of the carbon budget of 205,000 km2 of temperate forest in the Upper Midwest region of the U.S. We simulated seven harvest scenarios varying the (i) amount of harvest residue retained, (ii) total harvest area, and (iii) harvest type (clear-cut and selective) to assess the potential impacts on net biome production (NBP), net primary production (NPP), and total vegetation carbon. NBP was positive (C sink) in year 1 (2004) and generally decreased over the 50-year simulation period. More intensive management scenarios, those with a high percentage of clear-cut or a doubling of harvest area, decreased average NBP by a maximum of 58% and vegetation C by a maximum of 29% compared to the current harvest regime (base scenario), while less intensive harvest scenarios (low clear-cut or low area harvested) increased NBP. Yearly mean NPP changed less than 3% under the different scenarios. Vegetation carbon increased in all scenarios by at least 12%, except the two most intensive harvest scenarios, where vegetation carbon decreased by more than 8%. Varying the amount of harvest residue retention had a more profound effect on NBP than on vegetation C. Removing additional residue resulted in greater NBP over the 50-year period compared to the base simulation. Results from the seven model simulations suggest that managing for carbon storage and carbon sequestration are not mutually exclusive in Midwest forests.