Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Keeton, William


Temperate forests are an important carbon sink, yet there is debate regarding the net effect of forest management practices on carbon storage. Few studies have investigated the effects of different silvicultural systems, and the relative strength of in-situ forest carbon versus wood products pools remains in question. Our research (1) describes the impact of harvesting frequency and degree of post- harvest structural retention on carbon storage in northern hardwood-conifer forests, and (2) tests the significance of including harvested wood products in carbon accounting at the stand scale. We stratified Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots to control for environmental, forest structural and compositional variables, resulting in 32 FIA plots distributed throughout the northeastern U.S. We used the USDA Forest Vegetation Simulator to project stand development over a 160 year period under nine different forest management scenarios. Simulated treatments represented a gradient of increasing structural retention and decreasing harvesting frequencies and included a “no harvest” scenario. The simulations incorporated carbon flux between aboveground forest biomass (dead and live pools) and harvested wood products (including carbon storage in landfills). Mean carbon storage over the simulation period, including carbon stored in harvested wood products, was calculated for each silvicultural scenario. We investigated tradeoffs among scenarios using a factorial treatment design and two-way ANOVA. The predictive strength of management scenarios relative to site-specific variables was evaluated using Classification and Regression Trees. Mean carbon sequestration was significantly (a = 0.05) greater for “no management” compared to any of the active management scenarios. Of the harvest treatments, those favoring high levels of structural retention and decreased harvesting frequency stored the greatest amounts of carbon. In order to isolate the effect of in-situ forest carbon storage and harvested wood products, we did not include the emissions benefits associated with substituting wood fiber for other construction materials or energy sources. Modeling results from this study show that harvesting frequency and structural retention significantly affect mean carbon storage. Our results illustrate the importance of both post-harvest forest structure and harvesting frequency in carbon storage, and are valuable to land owners interested in managing forests for carbon sequestration.