Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Morgan L. Wiechmann; Matthew D. Hurteau; Malcolm P. North; George W. Koch; Lucie Jerabkova
    Date: 2015
    Source: Climatic Change. 132(4): 709-719
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (464.0 KB)

    Description

    Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere, helping mitigate climate change. In fire-prone forests, burn events result in direct and indirect emissions of carbon. High fire-induced tree mortality can cause a transition from a carbon sink to source, but thinning and prescribed burning can reduce fire severity and carbon loss when wildfire occurs. However, treatment implementation requires carbon removal and emissions to reduce high-severity fire risk. The carbon removed and emitted during treatment may be resequestered by subsequent tree growth, although there is much uncertainty regarding the length of time required. To assess the long-term carbon dynamics of thinning and burning treatments, we quantified the 10-year post-treatment carbon stocks and 10-year net biome productivity (NBP) from a full-factorial experiment involving three levels of thinning and two levels of burning in a mixed-conifer forest in California’s Sierra Nevada. Our results indicate that (1) the understory thin treatment, that retained large trees, quickly recovered the initial carbon emissions (NBP=31.4 ±4.2 Mg C ha−1), (2) the carbon emitted from prescribed fire in the burn-only treatment was resequestered within the historical fire return interval (NBP=32.8±3.5 Mg C ha−1), and (3) the most effective treatment for reducing fire risk, understory thin and burn, had negative NBP (-6.0±4.5 Mg C ha-1) because of post-fire large tree mortality. Understory thinning and prescribed burning can help stabilize forest carbon and restore ecosystem resilience, but this requires additional emissions beyond only thinning or only burning. Retaining additional midsized trees may reduce the carbon impacts of understory thinning and burning.

    Erratum published online: 10 September 2015

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to psw_communications@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Wiechmann, Morgan L.; Hurteau, Matthew D.; North, Malcolm P.; Koch, George W.; Jerabkova, Lucie. 2015. The carbon balance of reducing wildfire risk and restoring process: an analysis of 10-year post-treatment carbon dynamics in a mixed-conifer forest. Climatic Change. 132(4): 709-719. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1450-y.

    Cited

    Google Scholar

    Keywords

    Coarse Woody Debris, Live Tree, Fire Risk, Prescribe Burning, Prescribe Fire

    Related Search


    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/49313