Tradeoffs between Three Forest Ecosystem Services across the State of New Hampshire, USA: Timber, Carbon, and Albedo

Monday, 15 December 2014
David A Lutz1, Elizabeth A Burakowski2, Mackenzie B Murphy1, Mark E Borsuk1, Rebecca M Niemiec1,3 and Richard B. Howarth4, (1)Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, United States, (2)University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (3)Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States, (4)Dartmouth College, Hanover, United States
Albedo is an important physical property of the land surface which influences the total amount of incoming solar radiation that is reflected back into space. It is a critical ecosystem service that helps regulate the Earth's energy balance and, in the context of climate mitigation, has been shown to have a strong influence on the overall effectiveness of land management schemes designed to counteract climate change. Previously, we demonstrated that incorporating the physical effects of albedo into an ecological economic forest model of locations in the White Mountain National Forest, in New Hampshire, USA, leads to a substantially shorter optimal rotation period for forest harvest than under a carbon- and timber-only approach. In this study, we investigate similar tradeoffs at 565 sites across the entire state of New Hampshire in a variety of different forest types, latitudes, and elevations. Additionally, we use a regression tree approach to calculate the influence of biogeochemical and physical factors on the optimal rotation period. Our results suggest that in many instances, incorporating albedo may lead to optimal rotation times approaching zero, or, perpetual clear-cut. Overall, the difference between growing season and winter-time albedo for forested and harvested states was the most significant variable influencing the rotation period, followed by timber stumpage price, and biomass growth rate. These results provide an initial understanding of tradeoffs amongst these three ecosystem services and provide guidance for forest managers as to the relative important properties of their forests when these three services are incentivized economically.