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How Will the Changing Industrial Forest Landscape Affect Forest Sustainability?

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Large-scale divestiture of commercial forestlands is occurring in the United States. Furthermore, increasing demand for cellulose for bioenergy may modify forest management practices widely enough to impact the spatial characteristics of forested landscapes. We used the HARVEST timber harvest simulator to investigate the potential consequences of divestiture and increased harvest from existing stands for bioenergy on landscape indicators of sustainability in a working landscape in upper Michigan. Divestiture tended to reduce the amount of older forests, increased fragmentation, reduced public access, and decreased the volume of wood extracted from the landscape. Increasing bioenergy production also reduced older forests, increased fragmentation of age classes, and reduced fragmentation of forest types, while increasing wood volume extracted. Our results suggest that divestiture and increased harvest for bioenergy will have negative effects on most indicators of ecological sustainability studied, although it is less clear whether these effects are ecologically significant because the slopes of the negative relationships are relatively small at the divestiture rates studied.

Keywords: HARVEST simulation model; bioenergy; divestiture; forest products industry; sustainable forestry

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
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