Long-term effects of fire and harvest on carbon stocks of boreal forests in northeastern China

  • Chao Huang
  • Hong S. HeEmail author
  • Yu LiangEmail author
  • Zhiwei Wu
  • Todd J. Hawbaker
  • Peng Gong
  • Zhiliang Zhu
Original Paper


Key message

Fire, harvest, and their spatial interactions are likely to affect boreal forest carbon stocks. Repeated disturbances associated with short fire return intervals and harvest rotations resulted in landscapes with a higher proportion of young stands that store less carbon than mature stands.


Boreal forests represent about one third of forest area and one third of forest carbon stocks on the Earth. Carbon stocks of boreal forests are sensitive to climate change, natural disturbances, and human activities.


The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of fire, harvest, and their spatial interactions on boreal forest carbon stocks of northeastern China.


We used a coupled forest landscape model (LANDIS PRO) and a forest ecosystem model (LINKAGES) framework to simulate the landscape-level effects of fire, harvest, and their spatial interactions over 150 years.


Our simulation suggested that aboveground carbon and soil organic carbon are significantly reduced by fire and harvest over the whole simulation period. The long-term effects of fire and harvest on carbon stocks were greater than the short-term effects. The combined effects of fire and harvest on carbon stocks are less than the sum of the separate effects of fire and harvest. The response of carbon stocks was impacted by the spatial variability of fire and harvest regimes.


These results emphasize that the spatial interactions of fire and harvest play an important role in regulating boreal forest carbon stocks.


Fire Harvest Carbon stocks LANDIS PRO LINKAGES Model coupling 



The authors thank the workgroup from the Huzhong Forestry Bureau for field investigations. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFA0600804), the USGS-MOST project, the National Biologic Carbon Sequestration Assessment Program under the U.S. Geological Survey Climate and Land Use Mission Area, and the Chinese National Science Foundational Project (Nos. 41371199, 31570462, and 31570461).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13595_2018_722_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.School of Geographical SciencesNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  5. 5.U.S. Geological SurveyGeosciences and Environmental Change Science CenterDenverUSA
  6. 6.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System ScienceTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  7. 7.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA

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