Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Therese M. Donovan
Timber harvesting is the leading cause of adult tree mortality in forests of the northeastern United States. While current rates of harvest are generally sustainable, there is considerable pressure to increase harvest to meet timber production, climate, and energy goals. Maximizing one of these values may compromise other forest resources, including a wide range of ecosystem services and the conservation of native species. This dissertation investigates the effects of timber harvest on carbon sequestration and storage, bioenergy, and wildlife. First, I estimated current harvest regimes for different forest types and regions across the U.S. states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine using data from the U.S. Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. I implemented the harvest regimes in SORTIE-ND, an individual-based model of forest dynamics, and simulated the effects of current harvest regimes and five additional harvest scenarios that varied by harvest frequency and intensity over 150 years. Second, I used the output from the forest dynamics model in combination with a greenhouse gas accounting tool, ForGATE, to estimate the carbon consequences of current and intensified timber harvest regimes in the northeastern U.S. I considered a range of carbon pools including forest ecosystem pools, forest product pools, and waste pools, along with different scenarios of feedstock production for biomass energy. Third, I examined the effect of the harvest regimes on the probability of occurrence of 12 forest-dwelling songbirds. I used expert elicitation to build occupancy models using a combination of field-based forest structure data and landscape-scale variables. Finally, in Chapter 4, I combined the results of the previous papers and assessed the tradeoffs between management alternatives using a multi-criteria decision analysis approach. I explored the possibilities of simultaneously meeting multiple objectives including wildlife occupancy, net carbon impact, harvested wood products, and biomass energy feedstock production. The results of this dissertation provide stakeholders with state and regional estimates of the benefits and impacts of timber harvest to sustainably manage for multiple forest values.
Number of Pages
Brown, Michelle L., "Forest Management Tradeoffs: Examining Relationships Between Timber Harvest, Carbon Sequestration and Storage, Bioenergy, and Wildlife" (2023). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1672.