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Quantifying uncertainty about forest recovery 32-years after logging in Suriname

Tropical forests managed principally for timber production, if logging is well done, provides important carbon storage and sequestration services. Forestry practices that reduce damage to the forest during and after logging, can help maintain and promote timber stock recovery as well as carbon storage and carbon sequestration services. In this study we evaluated the performance of the CELOS timber harvest system as it relates to the time needed to recover timber and carbon stocks. The CELOS timber harvest system is one of the oldest improved logging methods implemented in tropical forests. We monitored tree growth and mortality over a 32-year period beginning in 1978 in forests logged with the CELOS system in Suriname. We used this data to predict the time needed to recover carbon and timber stocks similar to unlogged forests. We also propagated the uncertainty surrounding our allomeric equations used to estimate biomass into our time to recovery predictions using a Bayesian analytical approach. We found there is a 90% probability that forests logged at 25 m3 ha-1, the maximum cutting limit in Suriname, recover carbon and timber stocks after 70 and 40 years, respectively. The less time needed to recover timber for the second harvest potentially offers an opportunity to use carbon payments to capture additional carbon by extending the time between timber harvests. Such a carbon payment scheme could also promote timber sustainability beyond the second harvest as their is more time for commercial tree species to grow to log grade sizes.

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