Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Wang, Deane


Abstract This dissertation explored sustainable forest management from multiple perspectives: a literature-based investigation to define management practices that sustain ecological, economic, and social forest resources over time; a field-based research project to identify management practice differences between Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified, and uncertified properties in Maine; and a field-based research project to identify stand structural differences between FSC certified and uncertified properties in Vermont. Based on an extensive literature review, we developed an iterative decision-making framework of goal-setting/implementation/ monitoring/review that could assist forest owners in choosing management practices to sustain ecological, economic, and/or social capital over multiple time frames. Our unique contribution is the identification of six concrete management concepts at the implementation phase: (1) BMPs/RIL, (2) biodiversity conservation, (3) community forestry, (4) forest protection, (5) sustained forest product yield, and (6) triad forestry. Forest owners can implement practices under one or more of these concepts to achieve their sustainability goals. We illustrate a hypothetical application of our framework with a case study of an FSC certified managed natural forest in the lowland tropical region of Costa Rica. In the white pine forests of south-central Maine, we compared three FSC, SFI, and uncertified private properties against local scale Montreal criteria using triangulation of evidence from management documents, staff interviews, and field inspections. Certified properties were associated with improved internal management systems and improved practices for biodiversity conservation. However, our data suggest that certification does not necessarily involve fulfillment of all Montreal criteria, such as adherence to sustained timber yield, consideration of multiple social issues, or ecological monitoring at multiple temporal and spatial scales. In northern hardwood stands in central Vermont, we compared three FSC certified and three uncertified that were analogous in terms harvesting date, silvicultural treatment type, forest type, and general location. The uncertified sites were randomly selected to remove bias. We conducted stand structural analysis of both live trees and standing and downed coarse woody debris, and also developed 10-year growth projections using FVS/NE-TWIGS. Our data suggest that FSC certified stands had similar timber economic value, similar live tree structure, and similar tree carbon storage, but significantly greater residual coarse woody debris than comparable uncertified harvested stands.