Optimizing thinnings for timber production and carbon sequestration in planted teak (Tectona grandis L.f.) stands

María-Alejandra Quintero-Méndez, Mauricio Jerez-Rico

Abstract


Aim of study: We developed an optimization model for determining thinning schedules in planted teak (Tectona grandis L.f.) stands that maximize the financial output in terms of soil expectation value (SEV) and net present value (NPV) considering a) the simultaneous optimization of timber production and carbon (C) sequestration and b) only for C sequestration.

Area of study: Planted teak forests in the western alluvial plains of Venezuela.

Material and methods: We integrated a stand growth and yield model with a constrained optimization model based on genetic algorithms (GA) for determining optimal thinning schedules (number, age, and removal intensity) that maximize SEV when simultaneously managing for timber production and C sequestration. The data came from permanent plots established in planted teak stands with remeasurements from 2 to 32 yr.-old. Plots differ in site quality, initial spacing, and thinning schedules. We obtained optimal thinning schedules for several scenarios combining site quality, initial spacing, interest rates, harvest and transport costs, as well as timber and C prices. The stand growth and yield model estimates timber products and C flows (storage and emissions) until most stored C is reemitted to the atmosphere.

Main results: When considering simultaneously both, timber production and C sequestration, the scenario with the maximum SEV consisted of initial stand densities = 1,111 trees ha-1, site quality (SQ) I, harvest age 20 years, and four thinnings (ages 6, 10, 14, 17 with removal intensities 26 %, 28 %, 39 %, and 25 % of stand basal area respectively). For maximizing C sequestration only, the best schedule consisted of 1,600 trees ha-1, SQ I, harvest age 25 years, with no-thinning. A sensitivity analysis showed that optimal schedules and SEV were highly sensitive to changes in interest rates, growth rates, and timber prices.

Research highlights:

  • The management schedules favoring merchantable timber production are not the same that favor C sequestration.
  • For planted teak, the objectives of maximizing timber production and carbon sequestration are in conflict because the thinning schedules that maximize financial gains from C sequestration reduce economic gains from timber and vice versa.
  • With actual timber teak and market C prices, optimal NPVW is much larger than optimal NPVC.
  • For C prices under 40 $US MgC optimizing simultaneously for timber production and C sequestration is the best option, as additional although sub-optimal revenues can be obtained from C payments.
  • Lengthening the rotation, avoiding thinnings, or reducing their intensity increase carbon storage in planted teak, although, under the analyzed scenarios, after 120 yr. almost all carbon has been re-emitted to the atmosphere.

Additional keywords: heuristics, genetic algorithms, operations research, forest management planning, stand level model, carbon stocks.

Abbreviations used: C (Carbon); GA (genetic algorithm); NPVW, NPVC, NPVT (net present value from the cash flows of timber (wood), carbon, and total); SEV (Soil (land) expectation value); dbh (diameter at 1.3 m from the ground); G (stand basal area); Gp (potential site carrying capacity in terms of G); SQ (site quality); R (rotation, harvest age); A (age); I (thinning intensity); Vob, Vub (overbark, underbark volume); gr (basal area growth rate); r (interest rate); harvest and transport costs (Hc); Pc (C price).

 

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References


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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2019283-14649

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