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Title: Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Product, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystem Services

Abstract

Concentrations of CO{sub 2} in the Earth’s atmosphere have increased dramatically in the past 100 years due to deforestation, land use change, and fossil fuel combustion. These humancaused, higher levels of CO{sub 2} may enhance the atmospheric greenhouse effect and may contribute to climate change. Many reclaimed coal-surface mine areas in the eastern U.S. are not in productive use. Reforestation of these lands could provide societal benefits, including sequestration of atmospheric carbon. The goal of this project was to determine the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on the tens of thousands of hectares of mined land and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from large-scale application of forest restoration procedures. We developed a mine soil quality model that can be used to estimate the suitability of selected mined sites for carbon sequestration projects. Across the mine soil quality gradient, we tested survival and growth performance of three species assemblages under three levels of silvicultural. Hardwood species survived well in WV and VA, and survived better than the other species used in OH, while white pine had the poorest survival of all species at all sites. Survival was particularly good for themore » site-specific hardwoods planted at each site. Weed control plus tillage may be the optimum treatment for hardwoods and white pine, as any increased growth resulting from fertilization may not offset the decreased survival that accompanied fertilization. Grassland to forest conversion costs may be a major contributor to the lack of reforestation of previously reclaimed mine lands in the Appalachian coal-mining region. Otherwise profitable forestry opportunities may be precluded by these conversion costs, which for many combinations of factors (site class, forest type, timber prices, regeneration intensity, and interest rate) result in negative land expectation values. Improved technology and/or knowledge of reforestation practices in these situations may provide opportunities to reduce the costs of converting many of these sites as research continues into these practices. It also appears that in many cases substantial payments, non-revenue values, or carbon values are required to reach “profitability” under the present circumstances. It is unclear when, or in what form, markets will develop to support any of these add-on values to supplement commercial forestry revenues. However, as these markets do develop, they will only enhance the viability of forestry on reclaimed mined lands, although as we demonstrate in our analysis of carbon payments, the form of the revenue source may itself influence management, potentially mitigating some of the benefits of reforestation. For a representative mined-land resource base, reforestation of mined lands with mixed pine-hardwood species would result in an average estimated C accumulation in forms that can be harvested for use as wood products or are likely to remain in the soil C pool at ~250 Mg C ha{sup -1} over a 60 year period following reforestation. The “additionality” of this potential C sequestration was estimated considering data in scientific literature that defines C accumulation in mined-land grasslands over the long term. Given assumptions detailed in the text, these lands have the potential to sequester ~180 Mg C ha{sup -1}, a total of 53.5 x 10{sup 6} Mg C, over 60 years, an average of ~900,000 Mg C / yr, an amount equivalent to about 0.04% of projected US C emissions at the midpoint of a 60-year period (circa 2040) following assumed reforestation. Although potential sequestration quantities are not great relative to potential national needs should an energy-related C emissions offset requirement be developed at some future date, these lands are available and unused for other economically valued purposes and many possess soil and site properties that are well-suited to reforestation. Should such reforestation occur, it would also produce ancillary benefits by providing environmental services, such as enhanced watershed protection, and producing timber and renewable-fuel products.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Virginia Polytech University
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
914414
DOE Contract Number:  
FG26-02NT41619
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Burger, James A. Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Product, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystem Services. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/914414.
Burger, James A. Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Product, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystem Services. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/914414
Burger, James A. Sat . "Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Product, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystem Services". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/914414. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/914414.
@article{osti_914414,
title = {Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Product, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystem Services},
author = {Burger, James A},
abstractNote = {Concentrations of CO{sub 2} in the Earth’s atmosphere have increased dramatically in the past 100 years due to deforestation, land use change, and fossil fuel combustion. These humancaused, higher levels of CO{sub 2} may enhance the atmospheric greenhouse effect and may contribute to climate change. Many reclaimed coal-surface mine areas in the eastern U.S. are not in productive use. Reforestation of these lands could provide societal benefits, including sequestration of atmospheric carbon. The goal of this project was to determine the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on the tens of thousands of hectares of mined land and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from large-scale application of forest restoration procedures. We developed a mine soil quality model that can be used to estimate the suitability of selected mined sites for carbon sequestration projects. Across the mine soil quality gradient, we tested survival and growth performance of three species assemblages under three levels of silvicultural. Hardwood species survived well in WV and VA, and survived better than the other species used in OH, while white pine had the poorest survival of all species at all sites. Survival was particularly good for the site-specific hardwoods planted at each site. Weed control plus tillage may be the optimum treatment for hardwoods and white pine, as any increased growth resulting from fertilization may not offset the decreased survival that accompanied fertilization. Grassland to forest conversion costs may be a major contributor to the lack of reforestation of previously reclaimed mine lands in the Appalachian coal-mining region. Otherwise profitable forestry opportunities may be precluded by these conversion costs, which for many combinations of factors (site class, forest type, timber prices, regeneration intensity, and interest rate) result in negative land expectation values. Improved technology and/or knowledge of reforestation practices in these situations may provide opportunities to reduce the costs of converting many of these sites as research continues into these practices. It also appears that in many cases substantial payments, non-revenue values, or carbon values are required to reach “profitability” under the present circumstances. It is unclear when, or in what form, markets will develop to support any of these add-on values to supplement commercial forestry revenues. However, as these markets do develop, they will only enhance the viability of forestry on reclaimed mined lands, although as we demonstrate in our analysis of carbon payments, the form of the revenue source may itself influence management, potentially mitigating some of the benefits of reforestation. For a representative mined-land resource base, reforestation of mined lands with mixed pine-hardwood species would result in an average estimated C accumulation in forms that can be harvested for use as wood products or are likely to remain in the soil C pool at ~250 Mg C ha{sup -1} over a 60 year period following reforestation. The “additionality” of this potential C sequestration was estimated considering data in scientific literature that defines C accumulation in mined-land grasslands over the long term. Given assumptions detailed in the text, these lands have the potential to sequester ~180 Mg C ha{sup -1}, a total of 53.5 x 10{sup 6} Mg C, over 60 years, an average of ~900,000 Mg C / yr, an amount equivalent to about 0.04% of projected US C emissions at the midpoint of a 60-year period (circa 2040) following assumed reforestation. Although potential sequestration quantities are not great relative to potential national needs should an energy-related C emissions offset requirement be developed at some future date, these lands are available and unused for other economically valued purposes and many possess soil and site properties that are well-suited to reforestation. Should such reforestation occur, it would also produce ancillary benefits by providing environmental services, such as enhanced watershed protection, and producing timber and renewable-fuel products.},
doi = {10.2172/914414},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/914414}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2006},
month = {9}
}