Online Climate Adaptation/Forest Carbon Module

Online Climate Adaptation/Forest Carbon Module

Northeast Silviculture Institute for Foresters

Climate Adaptation and Forest Carbon Module – October 11-12, 2023 AGENDA

Location: north/central Massachusetts

Module Learning Objectives for Practicing Foresters:

  • Learning about state/northeast region climate policy context for forests
  • Estimating carbon stocks: live tree, deadwood
  • Understanding management options for carbon
  • Understanding climate change impacts on forests and wildlife
  • Learn tools for adaptation management to build resilient northeast forests
  • Understand the role of carbon markets and pay for climate smart practices

Day 1 

Intro big picture (30 min) – Forests role in net zero public policy in the northeastern states and a quick comparison of the forests of the 7 state region (carbon stocks, sequestration rates, etc) – Charles Levesque, North East State Foresters Association and Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, LLC     Content: review of climate/net zero related state laws in NE/NY in the context of threats that climate change pose for the region. Quick overview of carbon data for states.

  • Estimating Forest Carbon (45 min) – William Van Doren – Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Content: Techniques for measuring forest carbon in live trees and deadwood within a forest
  • Management Options/Techniques for Forest Carbon (60 min) – Dr. Alexandra Kosiba, VT Extension Forester and Dr. Robert Seymour, Professor emeritus, University of Maine – Content: Overview of various silvicultural options and management techniques for various forest carbon and climate adaptation objectives.   
  • Role of Durable Wood Products (30 min) – Dr. Matt Russell, Arbor Custom Analytics   Content: Likely durable product outcomes from forest management activities.

Afternoon – In the Field   

Site 1  Oakham State Forest climate adaptation harvest      Oakham State Forest, Oakham, MA

    Joelle Vautour, DCR Forester and Bill Van Doren (MA DCR biometrician) leading

Site 2  Wendell State Forest harvests       Wendell Rd, Millers Falls, MA

   Keith DiNardo, DCR forester and Bill Van Doren (MA DCR biometrician) leading

Start of field exercise – Steven Roberge, UNH Cooperative Extension leading

Day 2 Oct. 12 

Afternoon Field:

 Site 3 –  Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton, MA  – MA Audubon forest carbon offset sale project          Tom Lautzenheiser, MA Audubon leading

Site 4  –  Mt. Wachusett State Reservation, Princeton MA – Planned thinning in high recreation use area;  CFI plot and old growth site         Joelle Vautour, DCR Forester  Bill Van Doren leading


Required and suggested readings for the Silviculture Institute

Climate Adaptation and Forest Carbon Module 2023


Kosiba May 2022 two webinars on Science of Forest Carbon and Science of  Forest Carbon Management

Northern Woodlands Sept 2023 article – Managing for Forest Carbon

Carbon Benefits of Wood-Based Products and Energy (USDA Forest Service): Provides a broad overview of carbon storage in HWPs and implications for bioenergy.

Utilization of Harvested Wood by the North American Forest Products Industry (Dovetail Partners): An excellent overview of the historical context of HWPs.

The potential for storing carbon by harvested wood products (Zhao et al. 2022): A great review of current and future issues surrounding HWPs and carbon storage.

King, D. I., and R.M. DeGraaf. 2000. Bird species diversity and nesting-success in mature, clearcut and shelterwood forest in northern New Hampshire, USA. Forest Ecology and management 129:227-235.

Akresh, M.E., King, D.I., McInvale, S.L., Larkin, J.L. and D’Amato, A.W., 2023. Effects of forest management on the conservation of bird communities in eastern North America: A meta‐analysis. Ecosphere, 14(1), p.e4315.

Dr. Robert Seymour 4 articles for Maine Woodlands

Acquaint yourself with the NIACS Adaptation Workbook process and conceptual framework: Forest Adaptation Strategies and Approaches and Adaptation Workbook

How the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) estimate(d) live tree volume, biomass, and carbon using the Component Ratio Method (CRM):

Woodall, Christopher W.; Heath, Linda S.; Domke, Grant M.; Nichols, Michael C. 2011. Methods and equations for estimating aboveground volume, biomass, and carbon for trees in the U.S. forest inventory, 2010. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-88. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 30 p.

Note that this approach may not be the most accurate in an absolute sense, but is important because it provides data across all forestlands and ownerships – so can help to place forest attributes in context, and is used for entity-scale reporting.  Also, I say “estimated” in the past tense because FIA is planning to roll out public updates to volume, biomass, and carbon estimation circa September 2023.

How FIA makes (made) adjustments to the biomass and carbon of standing dead trees:

Domke, G.M., Woodall, C.W. & Smith, J.E. Accounting for density reduction and structural loss in standing dead trees: Implications for forest biomass and carbon stock estimates in the United States. Carbon Balance Manage 6, 14 (2011).

Again, past tense, as updated information on adjustments to standing dead trees is likely to be available after September 2023.

How FIA estimates volume, biomass, and carbon of down woody material and upper layers of the forest floor:

Woodall, Christopher W.; Monleon, Vicente J. 2008. Sampling protocol, estimation, and analysis procedures for the down woody materials indicator of the FIA program. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-22. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 68 p.

This document contains some nice worked examples to allow readers to “check their work”, but is slightly out-of-date.  It has been superseded by (not required reading); the extent to which estimation methodology has changed varies from attribute to attribute.


D’Amato, A. W., and B. J. Palik. 2021. Building on the last “new” thing: exploring the compatibility of ecological and adaptation silviculture. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 51:172-180. 

Littlefield, C. E., and A. W. D’Amato. 2022. Identifying trade-offs and opportunities for forest carbon and wildlife using a climate change adaptation lens. Conservation Science and Practice 4:e12631. 

Messier, C., J. Bauhus, F. Doyon, F. Maure, R. Sousa-Silva, P. Nolet, M. Mina, N. Aquilué, M.-J. Fortin, and K. Puettmann. 2019. The functional complex network approach to foster forest resilience to global changes. Forest Ecosystems 6:21.

Ontl et al. 2020. Forest Management for Carbon Sequestration and Climate Adaptation. Journal of Forestry

Status and trends for the U.S. forest products sector: a technical document supporting the Forest Service 2020 RPA Assessment (USDA Forest Service).  Lots of detail here, but participants may be interested in trends in product classes, regional trends, etc.

King, D.I. and S. Schlossberg. 2014. Synthesis of the conservation value of the early-successional stage of succession in eastern U.S. forests. Forest Ecology and Management 324: 186–195.

DeGraaf, R. M., M. Yamasaki, W. B. Leak, and A. M. Lester. 2006. Technical guide to forest wildlife habitat management in New England. University Press of New England. 305 p.

Review information on regional climate change impacts to ecosystem types and tree species:

Littlefield and D’Amato (2022). “Identifying trade-offs and opportunities for forest carbon and wildlife using a climate change adaptation lens”.

Nagel et al, 2019. “Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change: A National Experiment in Manager-Scientist Partnerships to Apply an Adaptation Framework”. Download full text here.

How did FIA estimate tree biomass before CRM in periodic inventories in the northeast?  An example of pre-CRM tree biomass estimation by FIA for MA (i.e., “deprecated regional” biomass estimation):

Wharton, Eric H.; Griffith, Douglas M. 1998. Estimating total forest biomass in Maine, 1995. Resour. Bull. NE-142. Radnor, PA; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 50 p.

  • Monteith, D. B. 1979. Whole tree weight tables for New York. AFRI Res. Rep. No. 40, Appl. For. Res. Inst., State Univ. of New York. 69 p.

How FIA is updating volume, biomass, and carbon models for trees (i.e., moving beyond CRM):

There will likely be a new document (e.g., a USFS GTR) after the update has gone live in FIADB (with worked examples using the new models).

“Jenkins” models, which are embedded in CRM and still widely used.  Note that there are updates (see below):

Jenkins, Jennifer C.; Chojnacky, David C.; Heath, Linda S.; Birdsey, Richard A. 2003. National scale biomass estimators for United States tree species. Forest Science. 49: 12-35.

Updated “Jenkins” models:

Chojnacky, David C.; Heath, Linda S.; Jenkins, Jennifer C. 2014. Updated generalized biomass equations for North American tree species. Forestry. 87: 129-151.

An example of how FIA collected data and provided estimates of soil physical and chemical properties:

O’Neill, Katherine P; Amacher, Michael C.; Perry, Charles H. 2005. Soils as an indicator of forest health: a guide to the collection, analysis, and interpretation of soil indicator data in the Forest Inventory and Analysis program. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-258. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 53 p.

There is a detailed description of data collection protocols, and there are some examples of expanding concentrations to volumetric estimates, and volumetric to aerial estimates.  Forest soil information has not been updated recently in FIADB in the northeast for some time for a variety of reasons.

Updated analytical methods around forest carbon estimation using FIA data:

Domke, G.M.; Perry, C.H.; Walters, B.F.; Nave, L.E.; Woodall, C.W.; Swanston, C.W. 2017. Toward inventory-based estimates of soil organic carbon in forests of the United States. Ecological Applications. 27(4): 1223-1235.

Builds on estimation methodology introduced in GTR-NC-58; modeling SOC beyond sampling depth.

Other discussions on forest soil monitoring:

Ross, D.S., Bailey, S.W., Villars, T.R. et al. Long-term monitoring of Vermont’s forest soils: early trends and efforts to address innate variability. Environ Monit Assess 193, 776 (2021).

Lawrence, G., Fernandez, I., Bailey, S., Beier, C., Contosta, A., Lane, E., Murdoch, P., Nave, L., Quintana, A., Ross, D., & White, A. (2023). Forming regional soil carbon networks to support effective climate change solutions. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 87, 755–766.

Other source of data on soil carbon and other physical and chemical properties:

USDA Rapid Carbon Assessment (RaCA):

USDA Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO):

Estimates of DWM decay rates and residence time:

Russell, Matthew B.; Woodall, Christopher W.; Fraver, Shawn; D’Amato, Anthony W.; Domke, Grant M.; Skog, Kenneth E. 2014. Residence times and decay rates of downed woody debris biomass/carbon in eastern US forests. Ecosystems. 17(5): 765-777.

FIA Northern Region Field Data Collection Protocols:

The documents here describe how FIA data and measurements are collected in the field in our region.  These consistent methods are the basis for applying FIA’s algorithms and models around forest carbon.

FIA database documentation:

Specifically see the appendix “Biomass Estimation in the FIADB” (likely changing after September 2023 when new models are introduced to replace CRM) – but it describes at a high level how biomass and carbon in trees is estimated and stored in FIADB.  The chapter on Down Woody Material describes how DWM and forest floor volume, biomass, and carbon estimates are stored in FIADB.

Change over time:

Beers, T.W. 1962.  Components of Forest Growth.  Journal of Forestry. 60(4):245-248.

Estimating change is different than just comparing the amount of stocks at two points in time.  Trees survive and accrue growth, trees grow in to the sample, trees grow and die before remeasurement, and trees grow and then are harvested before remeasurement.  Beers’ overview here is concise and understandable.

Bechtold, William A.; Patterson, Paul L.; Editors . 2005. The enhanced forest inventory and analysis program – national sampling design and estimation procedures. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-80. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 85 p.; companion files here under supporting documents:; and updated document here:

The first in this list (GTR-SRS-80) is a technical document (called the “green book”) that provides a deep dive in to FIA’s annualized inventory; in combination with the companion files there are worked examples for the traditional (non-small area) sampling design used by FIA.  Chapter 4.3.6 in particular provides an overview FIA’s approach to estimating change.

Pugh, Scott A.; Turner, Jeffery A.; Burrill, Elizabeth A.; David, Winnie. 2018. The Forest Inventory and Analysis Database: population estimation user guide (Edition: November, 2018). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 166 p. [Online]. Available at web address:

This document contains a technical description of exactly how to query the data stored in FIA database to produce population-level estimates; and in particular Chapter 7 provides an overview of estimating change.

Examples of remote sensing and plot imputation:

Examples of use of airborne lidar data (one of many possible tools available) to estimate tree, stand, and forest characteristics from lidar:,

Examples of imputation of tallied treelists from spatially sparse field samples to points on the ground based on ancillary, wall-to-wall data:



Other forest inventory resources that may be helpful:

Kim Iles:

  • “A sampler of inventory topics” – a textbook on forest inventory and sampling written in a colloquial (rather than formal) style, with worked examples.  Other books by Kim are good as well, and address specific forest inventory and professional topics in a format more like novels.
  • – links to a number of wonderful practical questions and answers on forest inventory and sampling, maintained (at least in part) by Kim.

John A. Kershaw, Jr., Mark J. Ducey, Thomas W. Beers, Bertram Husch.  2016.  Forest Mensuration.  John Wiley & Sons.  This and previous editions of this book contain good, practical examples of solving forest sampling and inventory problems.


Northeast Silviculture Institute: Climate Adaptation and Forest Carbon Module

                          Forest site conditions and associated treatmentsFIELD EXERCISE

October 11, 2023

Break up into groups of 5-8 – self select  NOTE: You will need to finish this exercise and hand in your work sheet individually (or electronic version) by the start of training on October 12.

Assignment details

The goal of this assignment is to apply knowledge gained through the pre-requisite readings, today’s presentations and field sites, and your previous experiences to develop a rapid assessment of the conditions of our final field site to determine alternative practices for forest carbon and climate adaptation management.  Take notes on factors indicative of particular forest site conditions in the stand chosen by you and your group and then at the final stop, we will form groups with other workshop participants to discuss and complete this assignment.  Each member of your group should turn in a worksheet based on what you have concluded.

At the Last Field Stop October 11, 2023:

Choose forest management objectives for forest carbon:

Option 1 – increase carbon sequestration rates, maximize carbon sequestration rates, other for sequestration (describe) ___________________________________________    CIRCLE ONE

Options 2 – maintain carbon storage, increase carbon storage, other for carbon storage (describe) _______________________________________________________________ CIRCLE ONE

Choose forest management objectives for climate adaptation and resilience:

Options – resistance practices, resilience practices, transition practices, Other (describe) ______________________________________________________   CIRCLE ONE OR MORE

Describe the site characteristics:

Estimate the basal area of your stand.  Determine standing carbon using the simple BA carbon calculator at

List carbon per acre estimate here ________________ metric tons

  1. Current Stand Condition: forest type, size class, forest health, structure (estimate number of age classes), advance regeneration, etc.
  • Overall site quality (low, medium, high – describe)
Name: __________________________  
  • What silvicultural treatment(s) would you recommend to meet the forest carbon objective chosen above?  What would be the desired future conditions 1 year and 30 years following management?
  •  What silvicultural treatment(s) would you recommend to meet the climate adaptation approaches(s) chosen above? What would be the desired future conditions 1 year and 30 years following management?
  • Describe the general wildlife habitat conditions in this stand (birds, mammals, invertebrates, etc.). What species do they support?  How might your chosen silvicultural prescriptions (above) affect wildlife habitat conditions?
  • How do your recommendations for forest carbon and resiliency differ from your traditional approach to managing a stand like this?  How are they the same?

g. What is your plan for evaluating carbon outcomes from this plan for both forest carbon and adaptation/resilience?