Publication Details

Fire management and carbon sequestration in Pine Barren Forests

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Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 34(1-2): 125-146.


Prescribed burning is the major viable option that land managers have for reducing hazardous fuels and ensuring the regeneration of fire-dependent species in a cost-effective manner in Pine Barren ecosystems. Fuels management activities are directly linked to carbon (C) storage and rates of C sequestration by forests. To evaluate the effects of prescribed burning on forest C dynamics, we quantified consumption and accumulation of the forest floor and understory vegetation and measured net CO2 exchange in upland forest stands in the New Jersey Pinelands burned with prescribed fires. Prescribed fires released an average of 470 ± 137 g C m-2 from the litter layer and understory, equivalent to approximately 2-3 yr of sequestered C in undisturbed upland forests. Canopy and understory foliage averaged 85% of preburn periods, and CO2 uptake at near-full sunlight conditions averaged 79% of preborn levels during the following growing season. On an annual basis, stands lost C during the year of the burn, but released C was recovered within 2-3 yr. Field measurements and model simulations suggest that continued prescribed burning in upland fire-dependent pine-dominated stands would have little appreciable effect on long-term forest C dynamics at the landscape scale.


Clark, Kenneth L.; Skowronski, Nicholas; Gallagher, Michael. 2015. Fire management and carbon sequestration in Pine Barren Forests. Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 34(1-2): 125-146.

Last updated on: May 28, 2015