Trade-offs between forest carbon stocks and harvests in a steady state – A multi-criteria analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

  • Kim Pingoud
  • Tommi Ekholm

  • Risto Sievänen
  • Saija Huuskonen
  • Jari Hynynen

Research units

  • Kim Pingoud Consulting
  • Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland

Abstract

This paper provides a perspective for comparing trade-offs between harvested wood flows and forest carbon stocks with different forest management regimes. A constant management regime applied to a forest area with an even age-class distribution leads to a steady state, in which the annual harvest and carbon stocks remain constant over time. As both are desirable – carbon stocks for mitigating climate change and harvests for the economic use of wood and displacing fossil fuels – an ideal strategy should be chosen from a set of management regimes that are Pareto-optimal in the sense of multi-criteria decision-making. When choosing between Pareto-optimal alternatives, the trade-off between carbon stock and harvests is unavoidable. This trade-off can be described e.g. in terms of carbon payback times or carbon returns.

As numerical examples, we present steady-state harvest levels and carbon stocks in a Finnish boreal forest region for different rotation periods, thinning intensities and collection patterns for harvest residues. In the set of simulated management practices, harvest residue collection presents the most favorable trade-off with payback times around 30–40 years; while Pareto-optimal changes in rotation or thinnings exhibited payback times over 100 years, or alternatively carbon returns below 1%. By extending the rotation period and using less-intensive thinnings compared to current practices, the steady-state carbon stocks could be increased by half while maintaining current harvest levels. Additional cases with longer rotation periods should be also considered, but were here excluded due to the lack of reliable data on older forest stands.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-103
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume210
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbon balance, Long-rotation forestry, Bioenergy, Substitution benefits, Steady-state forest management, Multi-criteria analysis

ID: 21138076