Past Logging and Wildfire Increase above Ground Carbon Stock Losses from Subsequent Wildfire

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Background: Wildfire is known to reduce forest carbon stocks, but the influence of ante-cedent disturbance on wildfire related carbon stock losses is not as well understood. Disturbances such as logging and wildfire may increase the vulnerability of remaining carbon stocks to subsequent wildfire. Conversely, these disturbances may reduce the impact of subsequent wildfire, resulting in lower carbon stock losses. Methods: We measured above ground carbon stocks in pro-ductive resprouting Eucalypt dominated forests before and after a mixed severity fire that burned during the 2019/20 ‘Black Summer’ fire season in south-eastern Australia. The initial surveys were stratified by time since logging and time since wildfire, allowing for an assessment of how these disturbance histories influence above ground carbon stock losses caused by subsequent wildfire. Results: Above ground carbon stock losses varied substantially; however, there was a weak decrease in losses associated with time since logging but not time since wildfire. Variance in carbon stock losses associated with logging were greater than that caused by the severity of the 2019/20 wildfire itself. Carbon losses and predicted effects of disturbance may be underestimated in some cases due to the accumulation of carbon at sites between pre-and post-fire surveys. Conclusions: This study presents the largest published dataset of direct carbon stock changes resulting from wildfire in eu-calypt forests. Our findings indicate that logging reduces the stability of above ground carbon stocks in resprouting eucalypt forests. This information will be critical for land managers looking to man-age forests for carbon sequestration.

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Funding Sponsor

Ecological Society of Australia



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