Evaluating carbon storage, timber harvest, and habitat possibilities for a Western Cascades (USA) forest landscape

Jeffrey D. Kline, Mark E. Harmon, Thomas A. Spies, Anita T. Morzillo, Robert J. Pabst, Brenda C. McComb, Frank Schnekenburger, Keith A. Olsen, Blair Csuti, Jody C. Vogeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Forest policymakers and managers have long sought ways to evaluate the capability of forest landscapes to jointly produce timber, habitat, and other ecosystem services in response to forest management. Currently, carbon is of particular interest as policies for increasing carbon storage on federal lands are being proposed. However, a challenge in joint production analysis of forest management is adequately representing ecological conditions and processes that influence joint production relationships. We used simulation models of vegetation structure, forest sector carbon, and potential wildlife habitat to characterize landscape-level joint production possibilities for carbon storage, timber harvest, and habitat for seven wildlife species across a range of forest management regimes. We sought to (1) characterize the general relationships of production possibilities for combinations of carbon storage, timber, and habitat, and (2) identify management variables that most influence joint production relationships. Our 160 000-ha study landscape featured environmental conditions typical of forests in the Western Cascade Mountains of Oregon (USA). Our results indicate that managing forests for carbon storage involves trade-offs among timber harvest and habitat for focal wildlife species, depending on the disturbance interval and utilization intensity followed. Joint production possibilities for wildlife species varied in shape, ranging from competitive to complementary to compound, reflecting niche breadth and habitat component needs of species examined. Managing Pacific Northwest forests to store forest sector carbon can be roughly complementary with habitat for Northern Spotted Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and red tree vole. However, managing forests to increase carbon storage potentially can be competitive with timber production and habitat for Pacific marten, Pileated Woodpecker, and Western Bluebird, depending on the disturbance interval and harvest intensity chosen. Our analysis suggests that joint production possibilities under forest management regimes currently typical on industrial forest lands (e.g., 40-to 80-yr rotations with some tree retention for wildlife) represent but a small fraction of joint production outcomes possible in the region. Although the theoretical boundaries of the production possibilities sets we developed are probably unachievable in the current management environment, they arguably define the long-term potential of managing forests to produce multiple ecosystem services within and across multiple forest ownerships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2044-2059
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the Ecological Society of America.


  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest management
  • Landscape analysis
  • Trade-offs


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