Canadian Forest Service Publications

Estimating stand-scale biomass, nutrient contents, and associated uncertainties for tree species of Canadian forests. 2013. Paré, D.; Bernier, P.; Lafleur, B.; Titus, B.D.; Thiffault, E.; Maynard, D.G.; Guo, X. Can. J. For. Res. 43:599-608.

Year: 2013

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34866

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2012-0454

† This site may require a fee

Mark record


The growing demand for bioenergy feedstock from forest harvest residues is generating concerns about the potential loss of site productivity through nutrient removal. We used tree-level national biomass equations and a national database of forest plots to develop stand-level biomass equations for the different tree components of 30 major forest tree species found in Canada using basal area as the independent variable. We have also compiled more than 12 800 nutrient concentration values for different components of Canadian tree species from existing databases and the literature. Uncertainties were propagated across biomass equations and through conversion of nutrient concentrations to nutrient contents. Most of the uncertainty in nutrient contents estimates was found to be among the nutrient concentration measurements. The greatest levels of uncertainty were for estimates of phosphorus in woody components and of calcium in foliage. Grouping species into genera gave only a minor loss of precision. The coupling of biomass equations and nutrient concentration data can be used to provide first-order estimates of biomass and nutrients exported by tree component and species when harvesting any commercial stand in Canada. However, the associated uncertainties are important enough to warrant their inclusion in decision making.

Plain Language Summary

Development of the forest bioenergy industry requires estimates of available biomass that are as accurate as possible, and methods to assess the sustainability of high-performance, transparent practices that can be applied over large territories.

To address this concern, CFS researchers have developed mathematical models to estimate available quantities of biomass and nutrients by tree component (trunk, branch, bark and leaf) and by species, for the first time at the stand scale. These models are valid for 30 dominant species found in Canadian forests. This article also presents research directions aimed at reducing the uncertainty surrounding these mathematical models and thus broaden their application in forest management.