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Monday, January 29 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY: WILDLIFE HABITAT: Using GIS to Predict the Impacts of Woody Biomass Harvesting on Forest Biodiversity: Case Studies in Northeast USA

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AUTHORS. Heather Stricker, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Deahn Donner, US Forest Service Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies; T. Bently Wigley, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc; Darren Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company

ABSTRACT. With the projected increasing demand for wood biomass to partially meet renewable energy needs, concerns have centered on whether this material can be removed while still conserving biological diversity and retaining ecosystem functioning. According to the US Department of Energy (Volume 1 Billion Ton Plan 2016; Oak Ridge National Laboratory) forest biomass removal is projected to be significantly expanded over the next few decades. Feedstock producing potential of woody biomass varied across the nation, however, contributing to a variability of potential biodiversity responses. In the northeastern U.S., source feedstocks were generated primarily by whole-tree harvests of smaller-diameter trees through clearcutting rather than logging residues, particularly in northern hardwoods and natural softwoods. We investigated the potential consequences of this regional projected woody biomass removal on several case study species by spatially simulating and quantifying changes in the landscape under the most significantly expanded near-term scenario (high energy demands, 2017 scenario). We then used multiple landscape metrics to predict how these changes in northeastern forests may be beneficial for some wildlife species (e.g., early successional species), but negative for other species (e.g., disturbance intolerant species). From a biodiversity perspective, region-wide analysis of changing landscape patterns can be used to help managers spatially plan and evaluate changes for multiple conservation species of interest that functionally depend on woody biomass.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm CST