You are here

Harvard Forest >

Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Potential impacts of insect induced salvage harvests in mixed forests
  • Primary Author: Meghan MacLean (Harvard Forest)
  • Additional Authors: Matthew Duveneck (New England Conservatory); David Kittredge (University of Massachusetts - Amherst ); Danelle Laflower (Harvard Forest); David Orwig (Harvard Forest); Jonathan Thompson (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    Forest insects and pathogens (FIPs) have significant impacts on U.S. forests, each year affecting an area nearly three times the area of all wildfires and timber harvesting combined. In the face of climate change and current trade policies, we expect an increase in both numbers of FIPs and their impacts on our forests. FIPs selectively eliminate tree species, thereby directly altering forest structure and composition. FIPs also have significant indirect impacts on forests by altering management practices, often initiating pre-emptive and salvage harvesting. With collaborators, we surveyed family forest owners (FFOs) in the northeastern U.S. and 84% of respondents indicated they would consider harvesting in at least one scenario of FIP infestation. This salvage harvest response to FIPs represents a potentially significant shift in the timing, extent, and species selection of harvesting in the Northeast. Here we used information from the landowner survey, regional forest inventory data, and the emerald ash borer (EAB) invasion to examine the potential for FIPs to alter harvest regimes and affect regional forest conditions. We found that 45% of the FFO forest area in the Connecticut River Watershed in New England is likely to be harvested in response to EAB. This harvest represents an 80% increase from typical harvest rates in FFO woodlands. Also, 16% of the total carbon will be removed in these salvage harvests, with 84% of that carbon from species other than ash, creating a forest disturbance that is up to three-times the magnitude of the expected disturbance from EAB alone.

  • Research Category: Conservation and Management; Ecological Informatics and Modelling; Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens; Regional Studies