How can forest management increase biomass accumulation and CO2 sequestration? A case study on beech forests in Hesse, Germany
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17139
BACKGROUND: While the capability of forests to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) is acknowledged as an important component in fighting climate change, a closer look reveals the difficulties in determining the actual contribution by forest management when indirect and natural impacts are to be factored out. The goal of this study is to determine the direct human-induced impacts on forest growth by cumulative biomass growth and resulting structural changes, exemplified for a dominating forest species Fagus sylvatica L. in central Europe. In 1988, forest reserves with directly adjacent forest management areas (under business as usual management) were established in the federal state of Hesse, Germany. Thereof, 212 ha of forest reserve and 224 ha of management area were selected for this study. Biomass changes were recorded for a time span of 19 to 24 years by methods used in the National Inventory Report (NIR) and structural changes by standard approaches, as well as by a growth-dominance model. RESULTS: The results indicate a higher rate of cumulative biomass production in the investigated management areas and age classes. The cumulative biomass growth reveals a superior periodic biomass accumulation of about 16%. For beech alone, it is noted to be about 19% higher in management areas than in forest reserves. When harvests are not included, forest reserves provide about 40% more biomass than management areas. The analysis of growth-dominance structures indicates that forest management led to a situation where trees of all sizes contributed to biomass increment more proportionally; a related increase in productivity may be explained by potentially improved resource-use efficiency. CONCLUSIONS: The results allow a conclusion on management-induced structural changes and their impact on carbon sequestration for Fagus sylvatica L., the dominating forest species in central Germany. This affirms a potential superiority of managed forests to forests where the management was abandoned in terms of biomass accumulation and reveal the impact and effect of the respective interventions. Especially the analysis of growth-dominance structures indicates that forest management resulted in more balanced dominance structures, and these in higher individual biomass increment. Forest management obviously led to a situation where trees of all sizes contributed to biomass increment more proportionally.