Alternative Forest Management Impacts on Forest Carbon Storage and Methane Emissions

Project Title: 

The Vermont Forest Ecosystem Management Demonstration Project: Evaluation of Carbon and Methane Responses Over One Full Decade Post-Treatment

Award Year: 
University of Vermont
Mark Twery
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station, VT
Kristofer Covey
Yale University, CT
Mark Bradford
Yale University, CT

NSRC researchers will reactivate the Vermont Forest Ecosystem Management Demonstration Project to follow through on the project’s long-term objective of understanding ecosystem service tradeoffs (such as enhanced forest carbon storage) in response to alternate forest management scenarios in the northern hardwood region. The Project was initiated in 2001 to test the hypothesis that “disturbance-based” forestry practices – approaches that mimic natural forest disturbances – can, in more ways than traditional forest harvesting, sustain biodiversity and ecological functions, including enhanced carbon storage, while also providing opportunities for profitable timber management.

Researchers will re-measure forest plots and assess forest ecosystem responses to experimental treatments using annual data collected over more than a decade after timber harvesting. This in turn will allow researchers to validate and revise carbon storage predictions, including carbon fluxes (or movement of carbon) among multiple aboveground pools, such as live trees, standing dead trees, and downed woody logs and debris.

In addition, researchers will measure forest methane emissions, allowing for a more complete accounting of net greenhouse gas fluxes associated with alternative forest management approaches. Future carbon yield estimates will be evaluated for their revenue generating capacity and provide options for landowners interested in carbon market participation. The ultimate goal is to inform sustainable northern hardwood forest management practices for a range of forest ecosystem services, particularly climate change mitigation through enhanced carbon storage in working forests.