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Aboveground carbon biomass of plantation-grown American chestnut (Castanea dentata) in absence of blight

Jacobs, Douglass F., Selig, Marcus F., Severeid, Larry R.
Forest ecology and management 2009 v.258 no.3 pp. 288-294
Castanea dentata, hybrids, carbon sequestration, forest plantations, Juglans nigra, Quercus rubra, dry matter accumulation, tree growth, trees, disease resistance, Cryphonectria parasitica, blight, Wisconsin
Forest management activities may help reduce global net CO₂ concentrations by capturing and storing atmospheric CO₂. Research related to carbon sequestration potential of plantations in North America has focused predominantly on conifers, with relatively little emphasis thus far on temperate deciduous forest tree species. American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.), a former dominant tree species in eastern North America until its demise associated with the introduced chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.) Barr.), is a temperate deciduous species that holds promise for future carbon sequestration programs with expected availability of blight-resistant backcross hybrids. We quantified aboveground biomass and bole carbon of American chestnut interplanted with black walnut (Juglans nirga L.) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) across four blight-free experimental sites varying in site quality and/or age (8, 8, 12, and 19 years) isolated from the native American chestnut range in the Coulee Region of southwestern Wisconsin, USA. American chestnut exhibited more rapid growth and greater aboveground biomass and bole carbon than either of the other interplanted species. Aboveground biomass ranged from 46.9, 60.7, 55.0, and 179.9Mgha⁻¹ for the 8-, 8-, 12-, and 19-year-old sites, respectively, while bole carbon content ranged from 13.6, 18.6, 14.1, and 60.1Mgha⁻¹ for the 8-, 8-, 12-, and 19-year-old sites, respectively. Cross-referencing our data to studies conducted within this same physiographic region using other important forestry species (i.e., Populus tremuloides Michx., Pinus resinosa Ait., and Pinus strobus L.) showed that American chestnut compared favorably in growth and carbon uptake. Incorporating American chestnut into carbon sequestration plantations provides additional ecological and economic benefits associated with consistent production of quality nuts for wildlife, valuable timber, and contribution toward species restoration. Our data lend support to building evidence demonstrating rapid and sustained growth of American chestnut and the potential role of plantation-grown American chestnut in helping to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration.