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Estimation of Aboveground Forest Carbon Flux in Oregon: Adding Components of Change to Stock-Difference Assessments

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Abstract:

A substantial portion of the carbon (C) emitted by human activity is apparently being stored in forest ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere, but the magnitude and cause are not precisely understood. Current official estimates of forest C flux are based on a combination of field measurements and other methods. The goal of this study was to improve on existing methods by directly tracking components of change in tree C across a large region using field measurements. We used repeated Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) measurements on permanent plots to quantify aboveground live tree C flux over an 11-year period due to land-use change, disturbance, and harvest, on 1,073 plots across 5.96 million ha of nonfederal forestland in Oregon. Land-use change resulted in a 110,000 ha (1.9%) net increase of forestland between 1986 and 1997. However, there was a net loss of 3.4 Tg of live tree C due to land-use change because the forestland lost was more productive than that gained. Live woody C decreased significantly in eastern Oregon (−14.4 Tg), with mortality and harvest exceeding growth, primarily due to severe defoliation by western spruce budworm. However, C stores increased significantly in western Oregon (19.2 Tg) due primarily to large accumulations from growth on nonfederal public lands. We demonstrate that C accounting that uses remeasured probabilistic field sample data can produce detailed estimates of C flux that identify causes and components of change and produce more consistent estimates than alternative approaches.

Keywords: carbon accounting; disturbance; forest inventory; land-use change; management

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5849/forsci.12-139

Publication date: 2014-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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