Changes in timber haul emissions in the context of shifting forest management and infrastructure

Sean P. Healey, Jock A. Blackard, Todd A. Morgan, Dan Loeffler, Greg Jones, Jon Songster, Jason P. Brandt, Gretchen G. Moisen, Larry T. DeBlander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Although significant amounts of carbon may be stored in harvested wood products, the extraction of that carbon from the forest generally entails combustion of fossil fuels. The transport of timber from the forest to primary milling facilities may in particular create emissions that reduce the net sequestration value of product carbon storage. However, attempts to quantify the effects of transport on the net effects of forest management typically use relatively sparse survey data to determine transportation emission factors. We developed an approach for systematically determining transport emissions using: 1) -remotely sensed maps to estimate the spatial distribution of harvests, and 2) - industry data to determine landscape-level harvest volumes as well as the location and processing totals of individual mills. These data support spatial network analysis that can produce estimates of fossil carbon released in timber transport. Results: Transport-related emissions, evaluated as a fraction of transported wood carbon at 4 points in time on a landscape in western Montana (USA), rose from 0.5% in 1988 to 1.7% in 2004 as local mills closed and spatial patterns of harvest shifted due to decreased logging on federal lands. Conclusion: The apparent sensitivity of transport emissions to harvest and infrastructure patterns suggests that timber haul is a dynamic component of forest carbon management that bears further study both across regions and over time. The monitoring approach used here, which draws only from widely available monitoring data, could readily be adapted to provide current and historical estimates of transport emissions in a consistent way across large areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalCarbon Balance and Management
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 29 2009

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