Carbon forestry is surprising
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CitationPukkala. Timo. (2018). Carbon forestry is surprising. Forest Ecosystems, 5, 11. 10.1186/s40663-018-0131-5.
Forestry offers possibilities to sequestrate carbon in living biomass, deadwood and forest soil, as well as in products prepared of wood. In addition, the use of wood may reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. However, harvesting decreases the carbon stocks of forests and increases emissions from decomposing harvest residues.
This study used simulation and optimization to maximize carbon sequestration in a boreal forest estate consisting of nearly 600 stands. A reference management plan maximized net present value and the other plans maximized the total carbon balance of a 100-, 200- or 300-year planning horizon, taking into account the carbon balances of living forest biomass, dead organic matter, and wood-based products
Maximizing carbon balance led to low cutting level with all three planning horizons. Depending on the time span, the carbon balance of these schedules was 2 to 3.5 times higher than in the plan that maximized net present value. It was not optimal to commence cuttings when the carbon pool of living biomass and dead organic matter stopped increasing after 150–200 years.
Letting many mature trees to die was a better strategy than harvesting them when the aim was to maximize the long-term carbon balance of boreal Fennoscandian forest. The reason for this conclusion was that large dead trees are better carbon stores than harvested trees. To alter this outcome, a higher proportion of harvested trees should be used for products in which carbon is stored for long time.