Elder Care Works: Guest Post from Alan Baumann

We’ve talked about the People’s Research Priorities before on this blog, but this is the first time we’ve posted research prioritized, funded and carried out by a member of the public here. The author, Allan Baumann graduated from O.S.U. in 1979 in Forest Management. He worked with O.S.U. researchers, the F.I.R. project and then on the Umpqua NF for 31-years. He held a variety of roles in Silviculture, Fire Ecology, Timber Pre-Sale and Sale Appraisals and research. Perhaps this fits into the category of “Seniors are doin’ it for themselves” to paraphrase the Eurythmics song.

The Stand:

Lynx #1 is a 3.64 hectare (9-acre) partially-harvested stand with light-moderate entries in 1976 and 1996. It is an average Site Class Four quality stand. The stand is at about 1,000 meters elevation (3,300 feet) and is located on Panther Ridge above Steamboat, Oregon. There are three main age classes of old-growth present in the overstory: 150-175 years, 300-350 years, and 500+ years of age.

The Growth:

Similarly, the average tree weight increased from 3.13 to 4.17 Mg_Tree, while the average tree increased its diameter by 3.56” over the 40-year period. Remarkably, 89% of the 440 live-trees measured exhibited moderate-fast growth rates following both stand entries at 20-year intervals. At its current growth rate, the 440 live old-growth trees will “grow back” carbon, totaling what was removed by harvest in 1996, by the year 2020. There was 550.7 Mg_Ha of biomass measured before
harvest in 1996. The partial removal in 1996 led to a 15% reduction, or removed 84.2 Mg_Ha of biomass. In 2016, there was 538.64 Mg_Ha of biomass measured in the old-growth trees in Lynx #1; with Lynx stand #1 actively growing at 3.62 Mg_Ha per year.

Older Trees Grow Differently:

Furthermore, it is key to understand that old-growth trees seemingly grow differently than young-growth. The study measured key structural attributes like bark thickness, limb diameter, crown form and noted any visible tree pathogens like conks, fire scars, broken tops or multiple tops. Conventional young-growth thinking is that key crown structural form is important for adequate tree development; e.g. having crown ratios greater than 40% for Douglas-fir and not having a one-sided form.

In testing these hypothesis against the Lynx old-growth some interesting results were found. These might influence future forest management for improving the resilience, health and sustainability of these valued genetic-legacy trees of the forest. An in-depth look at one-sided crown trees found that while 24% did have poor growth rates, 76% had moderate or fast growth rates. Testing trees with less than 20% crown form found only 13% growing poorly, while 87% grew moderate-fast over the 40-year period. Testing trees with both poor crowns and one-sided structure, found that 23% had poor growth and 77% had moderate-fast growth rates.
Further analysis was done on trees with visible conk indicators. Fifty-one (51) trees with Phellinus pini were measured and while 26% had poor growth rates, 74% had moderate-fast growth rates. Six (6) trees with Phaeolus Schweinitzii were measured and 33% had poor growth rates and 66% were unexpectedly growing moderate-fast. Implications for this additional growth are not normally considered.

Lynx #1 white paper finala link to the entire white paper.

Here are some caveats from the author:

It is important to know that my study only followed the 471 old-growth trees in the 9-acre stand. There is a healthy intermediate layer in this all-aged stand with a 90-year cohort and now a 20-yr and 40-yr. cohort after two light partial harvests. These were not measured or factored into any carbon calculation for my paper, though it would be very interesting to sample and tabulate.

I have been asked to go back and get 50 trees as a control in an untreated area nest to this stand. I plan to do that this year and then recalculate their carbon sequestration over the same time frame given the proximal site and weather conditions.

5 thoughts on “Elder Care Works: Guest Post from Alan Baumann”

  1. “At its current growth rate, the 440 live old-growth trees will “grow back” carbon, totaling what was removed by harvest in 1996, by the year 2020.”

    Don’t be fooled by this. While this may be a true fact, it is a misleading way of looking at forest carbon dynamics. The question that needs to be asked is how much carbon would the stand store in 2020 if it had not been logged in 1996.

    Answer: More than it stored in 1996. The unlogged scenario keeps growing and adding carbon, while the logging scenario spent 24 years trying to get back to even before it can even start adding carbon. Carbon storage in the logged forest lags behind the carbon stored unlogged forest for a very long time (even when carbon in wood products is considered). See the Law et al paper in the next post. When will the timber industry be required to mitigate for the warming caused by the extra carbon in the atmosphere during the very long payback period?

    • Whoa second… I think the biomass issue is about whether using wood for energy is carbon-neutral. If the trees were cut for building materials then the question isn’t whether they are carbon neutral. The climate change question would be whether wood as a building material produces less carbon than alternative building materials.

      I don’t think that this stand is relevant to the biomass for energy question as no one is likely to use these trees for biomass (if they were to be logged) as they would be made into higher value products..

      What am I missing?

      • Some people always seems to count harvested and utilized wood products as ‘lost carbon’. I think of it more as sequestered carbon, if it is used in building projects. If we let forests die, rot and burn, the climate issues are much worse, producing volumes of more powerful GHG’s, with greater climate effects. Pretending that “Whatever Happens” is a good climate path just isn’t rational.

  2. I need to interject that these light harvest entries were team designed to redistribute growing space and light for all layers involved in this Lynx stand. Certainly the 90-year old intermediate layer and the two understory layers benefited from these events.

    In fact, the understory was treated to reduce shade tolerant species and to release favored hardwoods, Douglas-fir and sugar pine. Today the “1996 understory” is now well over-crowded and in need of adjustments.

    If we let these stands alone now it is likely the two understory components would grow together in the future losing separation and fire resilience, counter to sustainability goals.

    Carbon is being sequestered in all these layers daily and also captured in forest products. Change occurs continually.

    The Lynx stand was rated old-growth functioning before the 1996 harvest and recent landscape analysis shows it is today a very viable and lively old-growth stand with nesting as well as foraging habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.

    We would need to know all the carbon sequestration in all layers to compare the stand in 1996 to the one in 2016. We don’t know yet, without a control, how to calculate growth without an entry. I will be working on a part of this piece with old-growth this spring/summer; but it’s less certain how the other layers present would have performed without treatment.

    Some increased growth would likely occur from our warming climate and increasing number of growing days per year. What I find out with the control trees will help with that part.

    I for one am not even going to credit humans with the release in Lynx. Disturbance happens and growing space changes and trees respond. Thankfully for all of us.

  3. Here is an important bit of new knowledge to ponder. The 440 live old-growth trees in Lynx increased their weight by about 1/3 in 40- years.


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