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    Author(s): Andrea Watts; Thomas SpiesJeffrey KlineWarren Cohen
    Date: 2017
    Source: Science Findings 202. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.0 MB)


    With the passage of the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, the U.S. Forest Service has managed its 193 million acres of forest and grassland for multiple uses, including timber, watersheds, and wildlife. Using today’s terminology, some of these purposes are considered ecosystem services, which encompass a breadth of benefits provided by forests, including their ability to absorb and store atmospheric carbon, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

    National forests are now working to mitigate climate change, but the tradeoffs involved in managing for multiple ecosystem services are not well understood. Using landscape-scale datasets of forest vegetation, carbon storage estimates, and wildlife habitat profiles, scientists with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station simulated the effects of various management plans on timber harvests, wildlife habitat, and carbon storage in forests of the western Cascade Range.

    They found that ecosystem services may be complementary, competitive, or neutral (e.g., a change in one service has little effect on other services). For example, carbon sequestration is potentially competitive with timber harvests and creating wildlife habitat for the western bluebird, but can be complementary to maintaining habitat for the northern spotted owl and the red tree vole. By using this tradeoff management framework, land managers will have a better understanding of the multiple ecosystem services a management plan may provide.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • 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.


    Watts, Andrea; Spies, Thomas; Kline, Jeffrey; Cohen, Warren. 2017. Can we store carbon and have our timber and habitat too? Science Findings 202. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Carbon, timber, wildlife, ecosystem services.

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