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British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Carbon sequestration by forests and soils on mined land in the Midwestern and Appalachian coalfields of the U.S. Rodrigue, Jason A.; Burger, James A.; Amichev, Beyhan Y.


Carbon (C) accreditation of forest development projects is one approach for sequestering atmospheric CO₂, under the provisions of the Kyoto protocol. The C sequestration potential of reforested mined land is not well known. The purpose of this work was to estimate and compare the ecosystem C content in forests established on surface, coal-mined and non-mined land. We used existing tree, litter, and soil C data for 14 mined and 8 adjacent, non-mined forests in the Midwestern and Appalachian coalfields to determine the C sequestration potential of mined land reclaimed prior to the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977). We developed statistically significant and biologically reasonable models for ecosystem C across the spectrum of site quality and stand age. On average, the highest amount of ecosystem C on mined land was sequestered in pine stands (148 Mg ha -1), followed by hardwood (130 Mg ha -1) and mixed stands (118 Mg ha -1). Non-mined hardwood stands sequestered 210 Mg C ha -1, which was about 62% higher than the average of all mined stands. Our mined land response surface models of C sequestration as a function of site quality and age explained 59, 39, and 36% of the variation of ecosystem C in mixed, pine, and hardwood stands, respectively. In pine and mixed stands, ecosystem C increased exponentially with the increase of site quality, but decreased with age. In mined hardwood stands, ecosystem C increased asymptotically with age, but it was not affected by site quality. At rotation age (60 yr), ecosystem C in mined hardwood stands was less on high quality sites, but similar for low quality sites compared to non-mined hardwood stands. The overall results indicated that the higher the original forest site quality, the less likely C sequestration potential was restored, and the greater the disparity between pre- and post-mining C sequestration stocks.

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