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How will the changing industrial forest landscape affect forest sustainability?

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Gustafson, Eric J.; Loehle, Craig

Year Published



Journal of Forestry. October/November: 380-387.


Large-scale divestiture of commercial forestlands is occurring in the United States. Furthermore, increasing demand for cellulose for bioenergy may modify forest management practices widely enough to impact the spatial characteristics of forested landscapes. We used the HARVEST timber harvest simulator to investigate the potential consequences of divestiture and increased harvest from existing stands for bioenergy on landscape indicators of sustainability in a working landscape in upper Michigan. Divestiture tended to reduce the amount of older forests, increased fragmentation, reduced public access, and decreased the volume of wood extracted from the landscape. Increasing bioenergy production also reduced older forests, increased fragmentation of age classes, and reduced fragmentation of forest types, while increasing wood volume extracted. Our results suggest that divestiture and increased harvest for bioenergy will have negative effects on most indicators of ecological sustainability studied, although it is less clear whether these effects are ecologically significant because the slopes of the negative relationships are relatively small at the divestiture rates studied.


divestiture; sustainable forestry; forest products industry; bioenergy; HARVEST simulation model


Gustafson, Eric J.; Loehle, Craig. 2008. How will the changing industrial forest landscape affect forest sustainability?. Journal of Forestry. October/November: 380-387.

Last updated on: September 25, 2009