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Forests 2017, 8(2), 41; doi:10.3390/f8020041

Using Macronutrient Distributions within Trees to Define a Branch Diameter Threshold for Biomass Harvest in Sugar Maple-Dominated Stands

1
Département des sciences naturelles and Institut des sciences de la forêt tempérée (ISFORT), Université du Québec en Outaouais, 58 rue Principale, Ripon, QC J0V 1V0, Canada
2
Centre d’étude de la forêt, Université du Québec à Montréal, P.O. Box 8888, Centre-Ville Station, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Brian J. Palik and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 31 December 2016 / Revised: 6 February 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 11 February 2017
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1856 KB, uploaded 11 February 2017]   |  

Abstract

As the use of forest harvesting residues for energy production gains popularity, debate continues regarding the long-term sustainability of whole tree harvesting (WTH). This practice removes nutrient-rich twigs that only account for a small fraction of harvest residues, emphasising the need to develop nutrient-efficient alternatives to WTH. This study assessed N, P, K, Ca, and Mg distributions within sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marshall) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britton) branches of various sizes in order to determine the branch diameter threshold that would represent the best compromise between the quantity of harvested biomass and nutrient losses that were generated. Quantities of nutrients that were exported with harvesting were then modelled at the stand level using different biomass harvest scenarios to explore what factors ultimately drove total quantities of nutrients exported with harvest. We found that the branch diameter threshold for biomass harvesting should be set at 2 cm for most nutrients in both tree species. An exception was Mg in yellow birch, for which the harvesting of branches larger than 10 cm would always generate larger nutrient export than gains in terms of biomass. At the stand scale, we provide evidence that the intensity of biomass harvest (i.e., the number of branch compartments harvested) is the principal factor responsible for the quantity of nutrient that is exported with harvesting. View Full-Text
Keywords: nutrient content; branch size; sugar maple; yellow birch; stand modelling; biomass harvest; nutrient export nutrient content; branch size; sugar maple; yellow birch; stand modelling; biomass harvest; nutrient export
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Royer-Tardif, S.; Delagrange, S.; Nolet, P.; Rivest, D. Using Macronutrient Distributions within Trees to Define a Branch Diameter Threshold for Biomass Harvest in Sugar Maple-Dominated Stands. Forests 2017, 8, 41.

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