Life-Cycle impacts of Inland Northwest and Northeast/North central forest resources


  • Elaine E. Oneil
  • Leonard R. Johnson
  • Bruce R. Lippke
  • James B. McCarter
  • Marc E. McDill
  • Paul A. Roth
  • James C. Finley


Inland Northwest, LCI, LCA, fire risk reduction, forest, wood products, forest carbon


Determining the life-cycle inventory (LCI) and impact of forest harvest, regeneration, and growth is necessary in conducting a life-cycle assessment of wood products. This publication provides quantitative assessments of the economic and environmental impacts of forest management activities covering portions of the Inland Northwest (INW), including Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington, and of the Northeastern and North Central (NE/NC) forests from Minnesota to Maine and south as far as Missouri, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The management scenarios provide the inputs needed to develop an LCI on all the inputs and outputs for wood products as impacted by forest treatments and the harvesting of logs in the region. Productive timberlands were grouped according to forest type, productivity, management intensity, and ownership into three broad forest types in the west: cold, dry, and moist; and four in the east: spruce/fir, northern hardwoods, oak/hickory, and aspen/birch. Spruce/fir represented the feedstock to softwood lumber and a composite of northern hardwoods and oak/hickory the feedstock to hardwood lumber. Simulations used the US Forest Service Forest Vegetation Simulator to estimate standing and harvested biomass and log volumes passed on as resources to the manufacturing segments for lumber, plywood, or oriented strandboard. The combinations of ownership, management intensity, and forest type were stratified and averaged to produce a single estimate of yield and the corresponding harvesting impacts. Both historic harvest rates and increased management intensity scenarios were simulated for each region. In the INW, the shift to the higher intensity scenario increased the average production of merchantable volume at harvest to 249 - 399 m3/ha when averaged across the forested land in each ownership class. For the NE/NC region, the production of merchantable volume averaged 263 m3/ha for softwood and 328 m3/ha for hardwood forests with an insignificant volume response from shifting land into more intensive management. Average growth varied widely for INW forest categories from a low on federal land for the base case of 0.7 - 6.7 m3/haha·yr for moist state and private land under the intensive management alternative. Current condition estimates of softwood log and bark carbon exported for mill processing in the INW and NE/NC regions were 751 and 988 kg/ha·yr, respectively.


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