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Title: Salvage decision-making based on carbon following an eastern spruce budworm outbreak
Forest disturbances, such as an eastern spruce budworm ( Choristoneura fumiferana ) outbreak, impact the strength and persistence of forest carbon sinks. Salvage harvests are a typical management response to widespread tree mortality, but the decision to salvage mortality has large implications for the fate of carbon stocks (including forest carbon and harvested wood products) in the near and long terms. In this study, we created decision-support models for salvage harvesting based on carbon after an eastern spruce budworm outbreak. We used lasso regression to determine which stand characteristics (e.g., basal area) are the best predictors of carbon 40 years after an outbreak in both salvage and no salvage scenarios. We modeled carbon at year 40 for different treatment scenarios and discount rates. Treatment scenarios represent residual stand conditions that may be present when an outbreak occurs. Economic discount rates were applied to 40-year carbon values to account for near and long-term carbon storage aspects. We found that the volume and size of eastern spruce budworm host species are significant predictors of salvage preference based on carbon. We found overall that salvaging less volume is recommended to avoid major swings in carbon budgets and that discounting carbon values to apply weight to near or long-term sequestration greatly affects whether salvaging is preferred. Lasso models are constructed for the northeastern US, however, similar concepts may be applied beyond our study area and potentially for other insect outbreaks similar to spruce budworm, such as mountain pine beetle ( Dendroctonus ponderosae ) or hemlock woolly adelgid ( Adelges tsugae ). From a policy standpoint widespread salvaging could create a large carbon emissions deficit with the risk of not being fully replenished within a desired timeframe. Since salvaging is often financially driven, especially for private landowners, carbon market payments or incentives for not salvaging is a consideration for future policy.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1920908
NSF-PAR ID:
10418241
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
Volume:
6
ISSN:
2624-893X
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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