Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project M085111

    The effects of salvage logging on the net ecosystem productivity of MPB-attacked lodgepole pine forests of the northern-BC interior
Project lead: Black, Andrew (University of British Columbia)
Contributing Authors: Brown, Mathew; Grant, Nick J.; Black, T. Andy; Nesic, Zoran; Fredeen, Arthur; Jackson, Peter; Burton, Philip J.; Trofymow, J.A. (Tony); Spittlehouse, David L.; Gaumont-Guay, D.; Ketler, R.; Lessard, D.; Sauter, A.; Egginton, Vanessa; Hum, A.
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Background: The current BC outbreak of mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk.), which began in 2000, had killed a total of 280 million m3 of pine through the end of 2004 (Eng et al. 2005), and is predicted to kill no less than 80% of the pine volume in the province by 2020 (Eng et al. 2005). Pine accounts for almost 30% of the timber volume in the timber harvesting land base of BC. The pine stands located in the Sub-Boreal Spruce biogeoclimatic zone (SBS) account for about 70% of BC’s timber production (Meidinger and Pojar 1991). The MPB outbreak is predicted to peak in 2006 with the annual volume of 90 million m3 merchantable pine killed on the timber harvesting landbase. This compares with the pre-MPB annual allowable cut (AAC) from public lands in BC of about 81.5 million m3 (The State of Canada’s Forests, 2003-4, NRCan). The AAC was increased by 4.9 million m3 in the fall of 2004 to allow for salvage logging in the timber supply areas (TSAs) of Lakes, Quesnel and Prince George (Snetsinger, 2005). Surveys of three pine-leading (>50% pine overstory), MPB-affected stands in north central BC indicated that 20-25% of pine-leading stands had such poor secondary structure that total salvage logging and planting was the only way to mitigate merchantable timber losses (Coates et al., 2006). Monitoring of the regeneration of pine in salvage-logged (SL) and not-salvage-logged (NSL) areas has been recommended (Eng, 2004). Measurements of the annual net ecosystem productivity of salvage-logged clearcuts are a key diagnostic tool for assessing the effects of forest management practices on the ecosystem carbon (C) balance, and hence regenerative potential, of MPB-affected stands. Net ecosystem productivity (NEP) is a direct measure of whether an ecosystem is a source of (NEP < 0), or sink for (NEP > 0) atmospheric C over a time period of interest and is calculated as P – R: the difference between gross ecosystem photosynthesis (P) and respiration (R). Clearcutting removes the canopy component of the aboveground biomass of the stand, thus dramatically reducing P. The removal of the mature trees also removes a significant component of C release from the metabolic activity in roots, boles and leaves (autotrophic component of R, or Ra). Extremes in microclimate (temperature, atmospheric humidity and soil water content) caused by the shift of radiant energy exchange from up in the canopy to near the ground surface (Spittlehouse and Stathers, 1990) bring about changes in the survival and growth rates of planted seedlings and understory (Fleming et al., 1998). Also affected are soil biological and chemical processes that control the decomposition rates (heterotrophic component of R, or Rh) of belowground biomass and slash created by the logging process (Prescott et al., 1997). C balance research in harvested forest stands: Growing season measurements of NEP have been made in early successional forests following fire (Amiro, 2001), and clearcut harvesting (Kowalski et al. 2003; Pypker and Fredeen, 2002a,b, 2003; Rannik et al, 2002). Stands varying in age from 1 to 10 years following clearcut harvest in a variety of biogeoclimatic zones have been observed to be annual CO2 sources. Humphreys et al. (2005) used year-round eddy covariance measurements to determine that a harvested coastal Douglas fir stand lost between 520 and 620 g C m-2 yr-1 of CO2 to the atmosphere over a 3-year period — nearly twice the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere per year by a nearby 50-year-old Douglas fir stand (Morgenstern et al., 2004). Notably, it was found that following harvesting, increases in annual P were more than offset by increases in annual R over the study period and that the influence of weather on annual NEP was at least as important as stand regeneration. Pypker and Fredeen (2002b) measured NEP in a sub-boreal clearcut 5 and 6 years following harvest. The clearcut was observed to be a C source in both years when annual (rather than growing season) R was considered. Growing season P was found to be comparable between the two years, while growing season R was significantly different. During the 2000 growing season, they observed that of the increase seen in above-ground biomass, 93% occurred in deciduous plants and only 7% in conifers. Measurements of foliar CO2 exchange scaled by leaf area index (LAI) revealed that the majority of annual CO2 uptake occurred in deciduous plants (487 g C m-2) rather than planted seedlings (96 g C m-2). Pypker and Fredeen (2003) investigated the variability of R between clearcut sites at varying times from harvest and found that while soil temperature was a better predictor than soil moisture of soil CO2 efflux (or soil respiration, Rs) within the same clearcut, between clearcut variability in Rs was better explained by differences in plant biomass. Proposed study - effects of salvage-logging on the C balance of MPB-attacked stands: Small-scale salvage logging operations following fire can have negative consequences through compromising natural regeneration and the removal of important wildlife habitat (Donato et al., 2006; Lindenmayer et al., 2004). In our SL clearcut, seedlings have been planted to minimize regeneration impacts. A complex interaction of climate, successional species (whether natural understory, planted seedlings, or both) and forestry management practices determines the magnitude and duration of the C-source status of an individual clearcut. To study the C balance in an SL clearcut, we propose to (1) determine stand level NEP, and P and R from growing season eddy covariance measurements; (2) measure soil CO2 efflux in plots where roots have been excluded and use the results to separate Rs into soil (i.e., below ground) autotrophic respiration (Rba) and Rh, and (3) partition net photosynthesis between seedlings and competing vegetation by measuring their foliar CO2 exchange (assimilation rate, A) and scaling the results to stand level using LAI measurements of the stand components. The results will be compared with corresponding measurements of the same variables in an adjacent, NSL MPB-attacked stand as part of an ongoing Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) study (see Fig. 2). Knowledge of the degree to which ecosystem C balance (and hence regenerative potential) are affected by the forest management strategies implemented to mitigate economic losses from the MPB outbreak is increasingly important, given both the current and potential scale of the MPB infestation across Canada, and given the increasing global demand for BC’s timber resources, particularly from the Asia-Pacific region.


Final Technical Report (0.9Mb)
MPB & Carbon Balance (Poster #1) (0.2Mb)
MPB & Carbon Balance (Presentation) (5.1Mb)
MPB & Carbon Balance (Poster #2) (0.1Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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