The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator

Website

http://landcarb.forestry.oregonstate.edu/

Purpose

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is a set of carbon models presented over a web interface that helps users examine how carbon stores in the forest sector may change under different management scenarios. The web interface allows the user to select different regions, histories of disturbance and management, and alternative futures. Carbon calculations can be done for a single stand or for an entire landscape. Reports and time trend graphs can be generated of carbon stores in the forest, in wood products (including bioenergy), and in disposal (landfill). The tool does NOT account for the effects of projected climate change on future carbon stores.

Output

Downloadable/exportable presentation-quality figures and spreadsheets.

Developed by

Mark E. Harmon, Tom A. Spies, Keith Olsen, Frank Schnekenburger, Harold Zald

Format

Web-based interface presenting a set of carbon models

Geography

Currently parameterized for Oregon (USFS Region 6)

Scale (range)

From a single forest stand to 26000 hectares (64247 acres)

Status

Following beta-testing, version 2.0 was released in 2013.

Training Requirement

1 (on a scale of 1-4). Taking a couple of hours to go through the user manual is highly recommended.

Potential Applications

Decision support for forest managers; comparing relative management scenarios; forest management and ecology education.

Caveats, Restrictions

Future projections of carbon stocks do NOT account for future climates. The tool is therefore best used to compare relative differences between scenarios, and not absolute values. The calculator is currently only parameterized for Oregon. Simulation models are not a substitute for actual measurements of carbon stores in a particular stand, landscape, or wood product pool.

Overview & Applicability

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is a learning tool that helps users understand more about the stock and flow of carbon in forest ecosystems and wood products. The tool is intended to help users examine the effects that climate, tree species, succession, natural disturbances such as wildfire, and management activities have on carbon dynamics at the landscape level.  In practical terms, the tool can help land managers, students, and other users compare effects of alternative management practices (including timber harvest, site preparation, fuel treatment, and artificial regeneration) and wildfire regimes on carbon stores and balances in the forest (including vegetation and soil) and in forest products (including landfills and biofuels). The tool models disturbances on annual increments and climate variability on monthly increments. Wildfire regimes have been created based on historical trends. It should be noted that in its projections of future carbon stores, the calculator does NOT account for future climate projections and their potential effects on the model results.

The FSCC lets users examine how carbon stores in the forest sector change over time, including carbon stored in vegetation, soil, and wood products. The FSCC lets users examine how carbon stores in the forest sector change over time, including carbon stored in vegetation, soil, and wood products.

History

The beta version of the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator was released in March, 2011. It was updated to version 2.0 in February, 2013, expanding the geographic scope of the tool to eastern Oregon and providing several other features. The tool can be customized to other forest types and geographies.

Inputs and outputs

Unlike some carbon estimation models that draw from FIA data, the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator relies on LANDCARB 3.0, a published, peer-reviewed ecosystem carbon model capable of simulating tree growth, removal, and mortality "from scratch". The model includes a climate variable to understand how carbon stores may respond to spatial variation in climate, but does NOT incorporate the effects of climate change.

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator accounts for a substantial number of "modules" or factors (including soil texture, seed dispersal, mortality, dieout, prescribed fire, etc.) but the basic interface and user input fields are relatively simple and straightforward. The model does not require inventory information to set up analysis, and requires only general knowledge of management history and disturbance regimes for the stand or landscape level. The tool is designed to be run on-line, and outputs include exportable figures/graphs and spreadsheets. Users can learn to run model in less than a half hour, and can master the tool within a few sessions.

Restrictions and limitations

The tool outputs include projections of carbon stocks going into the future. However, the model does NOT account for projected climate changes, which are expected to affect forest carbon storage. Estimates of future carbon storage should be interpreted with this in mind. For this reason, the tool may be best used to compare relative differences between scenarios (e.g. two management scenarios with differen fire regimes), and not absolute values of carbon stores.

The tool is currently parameterized for Oregon, but can be parameterized for other major forest types and regions around the globe. The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator website will soon feature a downloadable version of the model (with text-based outputs only); in the meantime, contact Mark Harmon to obtain the model (for customization). Simulation models are not a substitute for actual measurements of carbon stores in a particular stand, landscape, or wood product pool.

Accessing the tool and additional information

More information, including tutorials on using this tool, are available on its website.

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