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Understanding the Carbon Cycle, Climate Change and Forest Management

Bill Pollock

Forest engineer


This report provides an explanation of the carbon cycle and its terminology, the role that trees and forests play in producing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide and the part that wood products play in sequestering carbon.

Old, tall, wind blown, ice coated and snow laden trees have caused week-long power

outages and road closures. When trees become mature and die the dead trees, whether on

the ground or still standing, create a serious fire risk.

Through the creation of community forests and careful management landowners can

reduce the fire hazard, wind, snow and ice damage while the wood products harvested

will sequester carbon and help mitigate greenhouse gasses. The possibility of substituting wood pellets for oil or electricity for heating is considered.


For the past nearly twenty years carbon has been associated with the evolving discussion of climate change and global

warming. Without greenhouse gases the earth would have such extreme temperature fluctuations that life on the planet

would be impossible as we know it. However, essential as they are, high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmo- sphere create uncertainty in the earth’s climate. This has caused and will continue to cause risks to economic and environmental stability and sustainability because these greenhouse

Ecosystem services provided by forests include wood products, clean water,

clean air, wildlife, recreation, aesthetic

and spiritual benefits.

gasses inhibit heat loss from the Earth’s surface thus possibly causing climate change.

While carbon dioxide is the compound most often referred to as a greenhouse gas (GHG), a

number of compounds have the ability to trap heat when present in the outer atmosphere. These include methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride. The heat trapping potential of these compounds varies widely, with

some that are 25, 300, and as much as 22,000 times more effective than carbon dioxide in inhibiting heat loss.

The chemical influence of greenhouse gases on climate change/global warming is a scientific

fact; these gases do capture heat and inhibit re-radiation to space. Increased accumulation of

Carbon absorption and storage is another ecosystem service provided by

trees and forests.

greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is also an indisputable fact. This report is a summary of existing knowledge and an approach to the management and mitigation of the release of greenhouse gases. It also reports on the many advantages of substituting wood for fossil fuels which is a way of keeping our forests healthy and saving fossil fuels for our grand children.

The Carbon Cycle

First, we must understand where carbon occurs on, in and around the earth and how it cycles. Carbon is a basic chemical component of all living organisms and many non-living substances. Carbon exists in plants, soils, the air, people, buildings, and many other things. The places where carbon is stored are called carbon pools. The largest such pools are the oceans, the land, its vegetation, and the atmosphere. When a pool gains more carbon than it loses over a period of time, it is called a carbon sink. When a pool loses more carbon than it gains over a period of time it is called a carbon source. Currently, the

Understanding the Carbon Cycle, Climate Change and Forest Management Bill Pollock Forest engineer Summary This report

oceans, the land, and the atmosphere are all carbon sinks.

Pools of carbon stored in fossil fuel deposits – petroleum, coal, and natural gas stored in the lithosphere below the soil - are major carbon sources, with massive quantities of carbon released to the atmosphere as they are burned to create energy. The conversion of limestone to lime in the process of cement production is another substantial carbon source. Emissions from these activities have developed only in the course of the past 100 years, and substantially over only the past 60. Collectively, carbon liberated through these activities is termed fossil carbon.

On the surface of the planet carbon is continually “cycled” between various carbon pools and carbon sinks. For example, one type of cycle occurs annually when living things such as plants grow during the spring and summer absorbing carbon as they grow. Then in the fall they die releasing the carbon back to the atmosphere. Similar cycling of carbon occurs between the oceans and the atmosphere. In this case, carbon is captured by growth of phytoplankton, returned to the atmosphere as these simple plants die, then recaptured again with growth of new plant life. The continual movement of

carbon between the atmosphere and living things in oceans and on the land is described as the carbon cycle, a process that has been ongoing for millions of years. Collectively, the carbon associated with the oceans and land is termed

biogenic carbon.

Biogenic Carbon and Fossil Carbon

The biogenic carbon cycle is relatively balanced and continuous and it occurs with or without human intervention. Human actions, including land clearing, agricultural production, and forest management can influence the cycle. Even

without human action, plants and animals continue to grow, live and die and to absorb and emit carbon during various life stages.

The liberation of fossil carbon on the other hand results in a one-way stream of carbon emissions without a naturally occurring counter balance for re-absorbing the emissions. While the carbon released can be absorbed by the oceans or land-based plants, it does not return to the pool from which it came on anything other than a geologic time scale. Thus the release of fossil carbon disrupts a natural carbon cycle that has long been in balance. The problem posed by fossil carbon is that millions of years ago that carbon was captured and stored in the earth, and today there is no natural mechanism for either capturing the full amount of carbon released through its burning, or for restoring that carbon to the pool where it originated. The net effect is an increase in carbon-containing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Life Cycles of Trees

Trees are delicate when young and typically grow vigorously when given proper nutrition and a suitable environment. As trees age vigor is maintained for a lengthy period but then begins to wane. The top may begin to thin. Branches may die.

Life processes eventually slow to the point that the tree has difficulty healing wounds and warding off disease. Finally,

the tree dies.

Individual trees face strong competition for survival in the forest during their life cycle. As trees grow in size, they grow into the space occupied by others, crown closure occurs, and competition between trees for sunlight, water and nutrients

from the soil intensifies. The amount of carbon captured by individual trees as they become mature and overmature

depends on their size and amount of foliage. Large trees with abundant live foliage capture more carbon. However, increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the

Figure 1: Slowing of Tree Growth with Age Source: Brack,C.(1997) Australian National University
Figure 1: Slowing of Tree Growth with Age
Source: Brack,C.(1997) Australian National University

atmosphere do not influence the rate of tree

growth nor increase tree volume.

In forest stands (defined under Forest Carbon Dynamics on page 3) the rates of growth and carbon capture slow as a result of aging, and may even decline at advanced ages due to increasing natural mortal- ity. The result is that while older forests can store more carbon, the rate at which they remove additional carbon from the atmosphere is substantially lower, eventu- ally plateaus (Figure 1), and can become negative if mortality increases to the point that it exceeds net growth. The forest then changes from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. In addition, older trees in

older forests are more susceptible to forest fire and wind damage (which can affect electric distribution lines) resulting

in unscheduled loss of stored carbon compared to trees in younger, managed forests. Thus carbon accumulation does not

continue forever.

Planting of new trees to replace those that die or are removed is seldom necessary. Forests are highly capable of perpetu- ating themselves. However, under certain conditions, the planting of trees of a more desirable species may be a good option particularly in areas with an overabundance of overmature trees designated for cutting.

Recent news headlines about catastrophic fire, insect, and disease events have shown that a prolonged situation of forest

growth without any removal of trees is no more sustainable than one in which removals exceed growth. Increasing forest

volume without removals can accentuate competition between trees, causing some to die early thus raising the chances of

catastrophic fire and wind damage, disease and insect infestation. Thus harvesting of mature and overmature trees before they die is extremely important to help maintain the forest as a carbon sink.

Carbon and Oxygen. Trees and Humans

Both trees and humans breathe but trees need carbon dioxide while people need oxygen. While trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen necessary for human life. When trees die the opposite occurs. Oxygen is consumed by the dead tree while carbon dioxide is released. In a “normal” forest the amount of oxygen produced by the living trees is “balanced” by the amount of carbon dioxide released from the dead trees and decaying vegetation. By contrast human beings only absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide during their lifetime. Trees don’t grow faster because of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere . Similarly, humans don’t grow faster with additional oxygen. However, indirectly, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that causes changes to the length of the growing season or amount of annual rainfall may cause changes to the rate of tree growth.

Forest Carbon Dynamics

To understand forest carbon dynamics, it is important to look at the different sizes of forests. Forest managers frequently talk about forest stands and forest landscapes.

The forest stand may be as small as one hectare or more than twenty hectares. They are typically delineated on the basis of a common characteristic such as tree species composition, age, habitat type or another consideration. Each forest stand will have a different forest management recommendation.

At the level of the forest stand, forest carbon cycles periodically rise with regeneration and growth, and fall with periodic harvests or disturbance (e.g., wind, fire, insects or disease outbreaks). Under sustainable management, similar forest treat- ments are progressively applied over a period of time to individual stands across a forest ownership and result in more stable carbon dynamics.

The forest landscape typically includes forests of multiple landowners and stands of many different species and ages. The carbon dynamic of a landscape considers a weighted average of carbon capture rates of stands of all ages, includ -

ing rapid capture rates in young and maturing stands and flat to negative rates in older stands. For purposes of forest carbon accounting, the larger the area defined as a landscape, the clearer the carbon picture. The stability of carbon stores resulting from balanced forest management is even more evident at this scale. Under good management the amount

of carbon stored in the forest remains essentially the same. The stability of carbon stocks is attributable to growth of trees across the landscape which offsets the small portion of trees harvested in any given year.

Carbon Implications of Forest Harvesting

Carbon is stored in the main stem, branches, bark, and roots of trees, in forest litter, and in the soil. Of the carbon found

in forest soils, a small portion of the volume resides in the upper 6 to 12 cm,, with most in the deeper soil.

Harvesting typically removes wood of the main stem, and if harvesting for energy production, many branches may be

removed as well. The other parts of the tree are left on the forest floor where they degrade releasing carbon to the soil and

the atmosphere. When wood of the main stem is converted to long-lived products, the carbon within that wood is stored

for as long as the wood lasts. Conversion of wood to energy, such as burning it for heat, immediately releases the carbon

stored in the wood.

Harvesting also has an impact on the carbon contained within soils. Reduction in shallow forest soil carbon, immediately

after harvesting, is common. Carbon concentrations within the deeper soils, however, often increase as a result of forest

harvest activity.

References to periodic harvesting in forests evoke strong emotions in people who tend to equate forest harvesting with clearcutting or deforestation. The harvesting recommended here involves partial cutting to remove useable dead trees

and those mature and overmature trees in the process of dying. The purpose is to remove trees that are producing or will produce carbon dioxide in the not too distant future. This approach will maintain the residual forest as a carbon sink as

much as possible. Such management will also reduce the risk of forest fires.

It is important to note that most of the land cleared for farming in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries in the Laurentians has returned to forest and much of it is now mature and overmature. See pages 22 and 23 of “A SENSE OF COMMUNITY” by Diane Pollock and Margaret Moffat for pictures of the vast areas of cleared land. There is more forest land, more

trees and thus more wood volume in North America than there was 50 years ago despite encroachment by urbanisation,

agriculture, hydro-electric dam flooding, etc.

Trails to move the useable wood from the forest to a road are required. Some of these trails can be maintained for hiking and cross-country skiing.

Obviously there is some energy required to harvest trees and deliver them to a mill. Chain saws, log


approaches for our forests do have merit if they focus on the environment, economy and social


skidders, log loaders and trucks will use fossil fuels. The amount used will depend on the number of trees to be cut per hectare, skidding distance to a road and the distance to the mill. The amount

of fossil carbon emitted from individual tree selection cutting is quite insignificant when considered

on a forest landscape basis under good forest management. A saving in fossil carbon can be had by using horses for moving logs from the forest to a road and this could result in reduced environmental

damage to the residual forest.

An effective way to maintain or increase forest carbon stocks on private land is to ensure the existence of a strong market for forest products. Currently markets exist for good quality saw logs and hard- wood firewood, but there is no market for small diameter softwood. The use of havesting residues,

such as branches, tops, small diameter and unmerchantable trees could be turned into wood pellets for heating.

An estimate of the energy required to dry, pelletize and transport pellets is less than 11% of the energy content of the pellets if using pre-dried industrial wood waste. If the pellets are made directly from undried harvested trees, it is esti- mated that it takes up to 18% of the energy to dry the wood and an additional 8% for manufacturing and transportation.

The Carbon Equation and Production and Use of Forest Products

Wood Building Materials

Approximately one-half the dry weight of wood is carbon, and when wood is used for fram-

ing a house, panelling walls or making furniture the carbon will be stored for as long as the home or furniture lasts. An average new single family home contains about 15,800 board feet of lumber and 10,900 square feet of wood panels, incorporating about 21,300 pounds of

carbon. The carbon dioxide equivalent is over 39 tons. Within 7 million such homes in Canada, including townhouses, multiple occupant residences, and a growing number of commercial/

industrial and other structures, approximately 273,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent is stored. The carbon stored and released in the production of various construction materials is found in Table 1.

The energy required to produce wood products is lower than any other construction material.

Solar energy produces the trees and the wood. Lumber requires little energy to saw boards from the naturally grown wood. Laminated wood and plywood require more energy to produce, but

significantly less than non-wood materials. Most of the energy used comes from bioenergy

produced from tree bark, sawdust and other wood by-products. In Canada, only 28% of the

Carbon dioxide equivalent is a quantity that describes for a given mixture and amount of greenhouse gas, the amount of

CO 2 that would have the same global warming potential (GWP) when measured

over a specific time

scale (generally

100 years).

energy used for producing wood products comes from fossil fuels.

Table 1: Carbon released and stored by different construction materials


Carbon released (kg/t)

Carbon released (kg/m 3 )

Carbon stored (kg/m 3 )

Rough sawn timber
















There is another carbon benefit associated with wood use when it replaces other materials especially when it is put into long-term use. This benefit is referred to as the substitution effect, since substitution with wood in building construction

Liberty Square Project
Liberty Square Project

and other applications reduces fossil fuel energy consumption

and associated emissions of fossil carbon. The carbon emissions offset from using wood rather than alternate materials can be two or more times the content of the product.

It’s no longer just cabins that can be built from logs. An exam-

ple of the significance of the substitution effect is provided by

the Library Square project in Kamloops, BC. This develop- ment incorporated 2,927 m 3 of wood into a 5-story commercial/ residential structure built over a concrete first level. The proj- ect includes 140 condominium units, 1,300 m 2 of street level

commercial space, and a community library. Wood used in the

Library Square project stores over 1,692 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 6,205 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Carbon storage would not have occurred with the use of any other material. The total carbon benefit from wood used in the project is

equivalent to removing 1,369 average passenger vehicles from the road for a year.

It’s not only in Canada. In London, a wood tower stretches nine floors. In Sweden, the architecture firm C.F. Møller hopes to really raise the stakes with its plans for a 34-floor timber-framed apartment tower.

Wood-Derived Energy

There is also a substitution effect when wood is used to generate energy in place of fossil fuels. The forest industry has

long used bioenergy (mill residues) to produce heat and power. There is also a long history of wood use for home heat- ing (indeed it was the principal fuel for several hundred years), but it is

only recently that interest has developed in wood as a fuel for large-scale production of electricity, heat, and liquid fuels. Energy from biomass has become a hot topic of discussion in scientific, business, and govern- ment policy circles, with wood one of many fuels gaining considerable attention. Woody biomass can be in the form of forest products mill residues (sawdust, bark, and trim), logging residuals, sound dead trees or small diameter trees obtained from forest thinning. The production of wood pellets from this woody material and development of automated feeding systems for home heating leads to exciting new possibilities.

In Germany the use of forest biomass (wood) for domestic heating has a strong

social licence and is supported by all major

parties including the Greens. Due to the

rapid increase (forest biomass use tripled in the last 15 years) there are increasing concerns that the use of forest biomass for energy may lead to an overexploitation of forest ecosystems and that too much wood is directly burned instead of producing

wood products. The German Green party

Just as there is a beneficial substitution effect when wood is used in place of steel or concrete in construction, there are also substitution benefits

when wood fuels displace the use of fossil fuels. Wood fuels are typically sourced locally, are renewable, and their combustion releases biogenic rather than fossil carbon. When the use of fossil fuels is avoided, the geologic storage of carbon is preserved and new additions of carbon to the carbon cycle are prevented. While combustion of wood fuels also releases carbon dioxide, the carbon released is biogenic carbon which will be captured by the new trees that will naturally (or artificially) replace the

ones removed for fuel.

therefore recently requested regional plans for sustainable supply of biomass and a priority of wood products within the layout

of renewable energy programs. The key

concern is that biomass harvest may drive

forest management, Therefore it is crucial

to establish effective and transparent forest policy measures ensuring that only residues and low quality material is used within the already planned harvest in order to maintain

social licence for forest biomass use.

Pellet stoves:

BTU output 4 to 5 times higher than firewood.

  • 50 times less particulate

emissions than older wood

stoves and 2 to 5 times lower

than EPA-certified woodstoves.

  • 40 to 60 grams of smoke per hour

emitted by older, uncertified stoves.

2 to 5 grams of smoke per

hour emitted by newer,

EPA-certified stoves.

Less than 1 gram of smoke per

hour emitted by pellet stoves.

A fully automated pellet stove requires filling a hopper with pellets and turning the

stove on. The stove does the rest: It automatically lights, automatically feeds the

pellets into the flame with an auger and automatically adjusts the rate to keep the room

or home at a pre-set temperature with an electric thermostat. Pellet baskets allow a

person to heat their home using pellets in existing stoves and fireplaces. The energy content of wood pellets is approximately 4.7 – 5.2 MWh/tonne (~7450 BTU/lb). High-efficiency wood pellet stoves offer combustion efficiencies of over 85%.

For many facilities, funding is a primary roadblock. Biomass energy systems may

provide significant annual heating cost savings, but potential investors may desire

a shorter payback than is realistic without low interest financing. Biomass energy

systems may also be more capital intensive than alternatives. In many instances where it is desirable to remove dead wood after disturbances and to thin forests or

dispose of wood residues, a viable bioenergy industry could finance such activities.

There is broad recognition for bioenergy but the system still needs to make financial sense as an investment.

The Significance of Renewability in the Carbon Equation

As noted, the use of wood in place of more energy intensive, or fossil carbon intensive, materials yields tangible carbon

benefits through the substitution effect. In addition, wood is renewable, whereas the materials for which it is commonly

substituted are not, a reality that has major implications for both the carbon balance and long-term sustainability.

Petroleum is a non-renewable material. It is a vital source of liquid transportation fuel, heating oil, liquefied refin- ery gas, kerosene, asphalt and road oil, lubricants, waxes, and feedstocks for a variety of industrial products including plastics. In the United States from 1950 through 2010, 163 billion barrels of petroleum were extracted. Because it is non- renewable, the domestic reserves of petroleum available (known and unknown) to this and future generations are 163

billion barrels less than in 1950. Consumption of that petroleum released over 75 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the

atmosphere. In 2013 the petroleum use for transportation in the United States released over 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon

dioxide into the atmosphere.

Wood is a renewable material. In the same 60 years over 24 billion m 3 of timber were harvested from U.S. forests, a volume approximately equivalent to that covering a football field and piled almost 5,000 km. high! This wood was used

in building some 90 million homes and in producing countless other products. And what was the impact on domestic forests? Because they are renewable, the trees cut 60 years ago have been replaced by new ones. It takes 60 to 70 years for a tree to reach maturity. The volume of timber per hectare also increased and the forest remained stable throughout the 60 years.

Accompanying the massive use of wood was an increase in the volume of carbon stored within forests, long-term storage of billions of tons of carbon within residential structures and other buildings, and avoidance of even greater quantities of carbon through use of wood rather than other fossil-energy intensive products.

The differences between renewable and non-renewable materials are fundamental and dramatic. These differences are sometimes overlooked or discounted in discussions of environmental policy.

Approximate prices per million BTUs of available heat for alternative fuels, firewood, and wood pellets. Cost
Approximate prices per million BTUs of
available heat for alternative fuels,
firewood, and wood pellets.
Cost per
million BTUs
of available
Cost per unit
Heating oil
Firewood at $300/standard cord
(4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet) (3 short cords)
Sugar maple and beech
Yellow birch
White birch
Red maple
White pine and balsam fir
Poplar and basswood
Wood pellets at $200/ton
Wood pellets at $250/ton
1 Approximate cost of residential electricity
Hydro-Quebec 2014
2 Approximate cost in Quebec

The Carbon Debt Concept

In the carbon debate there is discussion of forest harvesting in the

context of a carbon debt, the idea being that since trees contain carbon, their removal from a forest takes away carbon that would otherwise remain, and that must be returned to the forest (i.e., the “debt” must be repaid) to restore its carbon balance. However,

as noted earlier (Forest Carbon Dynamics, page 3), no “debt” is

evident at the landscape scale.

In fossil carbon extraction there is no natural mechanism for

“repaying” a carbon debt. If non-wood materials were used in the construction of the Library Square example, one consequence

would be substantial increases in fossil fuel consumption and, as

noted previously, removal of fossil carbon from long term storage

and release to the atmosphere. Again, there is no chance of the

carbon debt being repaid.Carbon emitted from fossil fuel combus-

tion, whether ultimately taken up by land, ocean, or forests, is not

returned to fossil fuel reserves on anything less than a geologic time scale.

When wood is burned to produce heat or electricity, the carbon

within it is released to the atmosphere. However, if the wood is

being used in place of fossil energy, then the fossil carbon that

would otherwise have been released to the atmosphere is not.

Depending on the efficiencies of the system and other factors, the

quantity of carbon released through wood combustion as opposed

to burning fossil fuels can actually be greater. Yet as long as the

wood used in producing energy originates from a sustainably managed forest, where as much or more carbon is captured as is

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removed from the forest through harvest, a quantity of carbon equivalent to that released will soon be recaptured from the atmosphere by the same forest. As noted previously, that cannot be said for emissions of fossil carbon.

Forests and Carbon Policy

One of the difficult aspects of carbon discussions is in identifying the appropriate role and scale of various carbon pools

and carbon sinks. For example, since forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere, why not expand forest areas and plant growth to absorb the extra fossil carbon in addition to the ‘normal’ atmospheric carbon they store? In fact, if trees are capable of absorbing and storing carbon, shouldn’t we think of their carbon sequestration service as their most important

function and stop harvesting trees for other uses? This simple proposition – to let forests grow as a carbon solution –

defines much of the current carbon debate relative to forests. Yet such a proposition is high risk, and acceptance could

worsen rather than improve the atmospheric carbon problem.

It is important to realize that forests are dynamic, and that forests undergo change with or without management. It is also important to recognize that growth in excess of removals over the long term is no more sustainable than one in which removals exceed growth. With these realities in mind, it becomes clear why seeking to “let it grow” and accumulate as much carbon as possible into a forested landscape is a bad idea.

The proper forestry solution for all small forest landowners of one hectare or more involves:

  • 1. Silviculture aimed at promoting the regeneration and long term growth of aesthetic species of high economic value that grow large and tall such as white pine, white spruce, yellow birch and sugar maple among others.

  • 2. Maintain a healthy forest by harvesting mature and overmature trees just before or shortly after they die thus sequestering their carbon in wood products and preventing the otherwise dead trees from releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Such harvesting should also aim at reducing the fire hazard by reducing stand densities and removing trees susceptible to wind, snow and ice damage that could affect electric distribution lines causing power outages. Good quality sawlogs can be sold at a profit to the forest owner. Harvesting healthy trees just before or just after they die means cutting them when they are beyond economic, intrinsic and biological maturity - but before they become unhealthy.

  • 3. Thinning in younger forest stands to remove:

    • a. Trees very likely to die through competition from surrounding trees.

    • b. Trees that are preventing good quality trees of more valuable species from developing.

The above also implies:

  • 4. The creation of a forest owner’s community management group (see below).

  • 5. The development of a conservation plan for the members of the community management group involving water, forestry, aesthetic, wildlife and other considerations providing a balance between economic, societal, and ecological needs.

  • 6. A study of the feasibility of a pellet plant or other industry using small diameter wood in the Ste-Agathe area ..

Getting Together (Community Forest Management)

Community forestry describes models of forest management where forest owners get together

and participate in the decision making process. The community forest should serve all members equitably who have economic, social, and cultural relationships with their forests under a variety of management, and comanagement arrangements

The general aim of community forestry is to maintain healthy forests while serving local liveli- hood needs. It also contributes to the economy of scale in forest management and operations. The objectives of community forestry can vary: forest protection, household use, carbon sequestra-

tion and commercial production. Multiple objectives often coexist because of the diverse needs

of community members. These needs range from environmental (such as water and wildlife), to

financial (forest products like timber and food), to spiritual and cultural. Community forestry can

involve a range of forest types, from pristine natural forests to secondary or severely degraded

forests and includes tree plantations and sugar bushes.

There are

many tenets for successful collaborative efforts, but the

first few must be

mutual trust, open communication, shared goals and respect for different


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In industrial forests, managers have traditionally focused their entire attention on timber exploitation. Community forestry

allows users to more equitably balance multiple and varied interests.

The willingness of private forest owners to actively manage their forests in the face of climate change will likely be affected by market and policy incentives and not climate change itself. Policy incentives, such as carbon pricing or cap

and trade markets, could influence landowner choices. Current regulations designed to protect certain plant, animal or

other ecosystems may constrain adaptive forest management that would respond to climate change.

Forest landowners interested in practicing good forest management should create a community forest management group or association. Each member of the group decides on the part or parts of their land (minimum of 1 hectare) they want to manage, their management objectives and special considerations. All these pieces of land form the community forest. The community forest group is managed by 3 to 5 directors elected by the landowners who also choose a forest engineer or technician to manage the community forest. A forest inventory for each stand on each parcel of land in the community forest is prepared by a forest engineer who also prepares a forest conservation plan of activities to be carried out during the next 10 years with an estimate of costs and returns. Occasionally subsidies are available for the preparation of such

plans and certain silvicultural activities in certain forest stands. The sale of logs and firewood (or pellet wood) would also bring in some revenue. The profitability would depend on any special considerations or restraints of individual landown- ers. Perhaps intrinsic forest values are more important. Perhaps

An optimized harvesting strategy could increase future carbon sequestration by 20 - 30% through wood production, and maintain many desirable stand structural and aesthetic attributes that are correlated to biodiversity while increasing the strength of the forest as a carbon sink.


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