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Estimating stand-scale biomass, nutrient contents, and associated uncertainties for tree species of Canadian forests

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The growing demand for bioenergy feedstock from forest harvest residues is generating concerns about the potential loss of site productivity through nutrient removal. We used tree-level national biomass equations and a national database of forest plots to develop stand-level biomass equations for the different tree components of 30 major forest tree species found in Canada using basal area as the independent variable. We have also compiled more than 12 800 nutrient concentration values for different components of Canadian tree species from existing databases and the literature. Uncertainties were propagated across biomass equations and through conversion of nutrient concentrations to nutrient contents. Most of the uncertainty in nutrient contents estimates was found to be among the nutrient concentration measurements. The greatest levels of uncertainty were for estimates of phosphorus in woody components and of calcium in foliage. Grouping species into genera gave only a minor loss of precision. The coupling of biomass equations and nutrient concentration data can be used to provide first-order estimates of biomass and nutrients exported by tree component and species when harvesting any commercial stand in Canada. However, the associated uncertainties are important enough to warrant their inclusion in decision making.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, P.O. Box 10380, Stn. Sainte-Foy, Québec, QC G1V 4C7, Canada. 2: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1M5, Canada.

Publication date: April 25, 2013

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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