An exploratory, post harvest comparison of ecological and economic characteristics of Forest Stewardship Council Certified and Uncertified Northern Hardwood stands
As more forest entities worldwide consider pursuing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, a critical question remains on whether stand-level management impacts differ between certified and uncertified forests. To begin to answer this question, we measured forest structure on three FSC-certified stands, three uncertified stands, and six adjacent unharvested reference stands (12 stands total) composed primarily of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) on non-industrial private properties in central Vermont, USA. The certified and uncertified partial harvests reduced total tree biomass and live tree carbon storage by one-third compared to reconstructed pre-harvest conditions. Both treatments also contained significantly lower densities of saplings and some mid-size trees compared to non-harvested references due to similar impacts from harvesting. The net present value of merchantable sugar maple over 10 year projections was consistently lower on certified than uncertified stands, but this difference was insignificant at discount rates from 4–8%. The certified stands contained significantly greater total residual volumes of coarse woody debris (standing and downed) than uncertified stands, although the debris was smaller than that found in unmanaged mature forests. Overall, our data suggest that FSC-certified harvested stands in northern hardwood forests have similar sugar maple timber value, aboveground live tree carbon storage value, similar live tree structure, and greater residual coarse woody debris than uncertified harvested stands.
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- Journal article
- Bryan Foster
- Deane Wang
- William Keeton
- United States