FOREST MANAGEMENT TOOLS:
A Guide to Forest Health – A Tree-Physiology Approach to Long Term Carbon Capture and Storage
by Alan C. Page, Ph.D. Green Diamond Systems Belchertown, Massachusetts 01007
All trees have at least two carbohydrate allocation mechanisms that determine how the structural strength of the tree is constructed. These physiological systems are basic to successful management of a timber crop. This discussion summarizes how two of these mechanisms work and the implications for forest site quality evaluation and maintenance using white pine as a reference species where needed. The possible connections between the physiology of individual trees and stand management are reviewed and areas of additional research are suggested for further exploration. This paper also presents a preliminary discussion of how the inter-relation of site factors and tree physiology may be affected by the introduction of inoculated biochar to forest soils. It is hoped that these observations may lead to improved understanding of the need for early intervention, improved appreciation for what may happen from different types of thinning, and better application of practices to influence the outcome from management of this and other species. This is a concept paper rather than a prescriptive standard, more definitive research is needed to flesh out where these potential opportunities exist and how to recognize them in practice.
Successful Tree Growth - A Basic Concept of Sustainability:
Timber growing is the only natural terrestrial, long term, self collecting, organic substrate that is completely sustainable as long as we care for how it is gathered and regenerated (as long as the climate remains the same). It is too important to be relegated to those situations that are convenient for modern consumer lifestyles! However, the choices of energy and materials sources today are destabilizing both the climate and the possibility of regular intervention even as the need for such intervention increases.
Today management of liquid assets can be easily ranked against many other alternatives. Future management of a timber crop may be judged against these alternatives as well. It has been demonstrated that rapid individual tree growth need not significantly diminish volume growth, and is currently necessary for successful economic performance. This statement should not be construed to mean that the long term nature of forest production is in anyway a potentially bankable endeavor. There are no credit options other than government grant funding that allow an owner without discretionary income to effectively follow through on the long term management needs described below. It is imperative to recognize that intensive, growth-enhancing management once begun must be practiced consistently and as the various stands require or it should not have been started at all.
Financial returns from management of a forest stand are controlled by:
the choices that are made regarding tree quality and stand density,
the timing of interventions to remove portions of the stand, and
the responses of the trees that remain following the intervention.
Future returns may be modified by payments for many of the normal services that forests do and by enhancements to local site quality that may include:
1) payments for CO2 recovery, elimination or reduction of methane release and permanent carbon sequestration,
2) energy and co-product capture for local use or refinement,
3) water cleanup via biochar applications,
4) site enhancement with biochar from local forests through:
1. improved function of the beneficial soil microbial population
2. displacement of pathogenic microrganisms
3. detoxification of organic compounds
4. increased water holding capacity,and reduction of water loss
5. improved soil aeration,
6. enhanced ion exchange capability, resulting in increased nutrient retention
7. resulting higher stand density and volume production.
There is much more to this discussion. The complete document can be downloaded at Common Good Forestry. Look for the Forest Management Tools tab and go to the files section at the bottom of the page.