Carbon and Land Management

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI. 
Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.
Todd Ontl, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Terrestrial ecosystems, including forests and grasslands, play an important role in sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2), thereby helping to remove it from the atmosphere and lessening the effects of anthropogenic climate change (1-3). There are a number of greenhouse gas mitigation actions that can help to reduce the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas sources and enhancing carbon sinks in forests and grasslands (4, 5, 3). Ecosystem carbon is of particular interest because of the importance of CO2 and methane (CH4) as important greenhouse gases, as well as the ability of ecosystem vegetation to absorb and sequester CO2 (1, 6). Land management actions can also affect the emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O)—another very potent greenhouse gas—although the role of forest and land management is small regarding this compound.

Forests and grasslands are managed for many different objectives and a variety of goods and services, including timber, range, water, recreation, and wildlife. The amount of carbon absorbed and stored within a particular ecosystem is affected by land use change, management activities, disturbance, the use of harvested wood, and climate.  Carbon may be of interest in developing management plans and options, but rarely is it the primary management objective. These topic pages provide information to support the integration of carbon considerations into land management, particularly in the context of carbon as just one of multiple management objectives. 

Associated Topic Pages

Global Carbon

Forest Soil Carbon

Forest Management for Carbon Benefits

Grassland Carbon and Management

An archived topic page on Forests and Carbon (2013) is available.

References: 

1. United States Department of Agriculture, U. 2011. US Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2008. Washington, DC: Climate Change Program Office, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 159.

2. Stocker, T.; Qin, D.; Plattner, G.; Tignor, M.; Allen, S.; Boschung, J.; Nauels, A.; Xia, Y.; Bex, B.; Midgley, B. 2013. IPCC, 2013: climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

3. King, A.W.; Dilling, L.; Zimmerman, G.; Fairman, D.; Houghton, R.; Marland, G.; Rose, A.; Wilbanks, T. 2007. The first state of the carbon cycle report (SOCCR): The North American carbon budget and implications for the global carbon cycle. The first state of the carbon cycle report (SOCCR): The North American carbon budget and implications for the global carbon cycle.

4. Birdsey, R.; Alig, R.; Adams, D. 2000. Chapter 8: Mitigation Activities in the Forest Sector to Reduce Emissions and Enhance Sinks of Greenhouse Gases. In: L. A. Joyce, R. Birdsey and (eds.), eds. The impact of climate change on America's forests: a technical document supporting the 2000 USDA Forest Service RPA Assessment. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

5. Millar, C.I.; Skog, K.E.; McKinley, D.C.C.; Birdsey, R.A.; Swanston, C.W.; Hines, S.J.; Woodall, C.W.; Reinhardt, E.D.; Peterson, D.L.; Vose, J.M. 2012. Adaptation and mitigation. In: J. M. Vose, D. L. Peterson and T. Patel-Weynand, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 125-192.

6. Murray, B.; Sohngen, B.; Sommer, A.; Depro, B.; Jones, K.; McCarl, B.; Gillig, D.; DeAngelo, B.; Andrasko, K. 2005. Greenhouse gas mitigation potential in US forestry and agriculture. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency. EPA.

 

 

How to cite: 

Janowiak, M.; Swanston, C. (May, 2017). Carbon and Land Management Introduction. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/introduction

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

CCRC Topics: 

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI. 
Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.
Todd Ontl, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Management objectives dictate the decisions land managers make. These objectives vary widely based on the landowner as well as the conditions of the ecosystem in question, and objectives may include any number of desired ecosystem benefits: water protection, wood production, wildlife, specific recreational opportunities, aesthetics, privacy, and more. Greenhouse gas mitigation is thus part of a wider array of management aims for forests and grasslands. Managers may choose to incorporate greenhouse gas mitigation as a management objective for a number of reasons, including increasing forest productivity or deriving benefits from participating in carbon markets. However, focusing solely on carbon could lead to non-optimal management decisions, and, in some situations, managing for carbon benefits may be at odds with other goals.

The tradeoffs inherent in balancing multiple management goals necessitate the recognition that it may not be possible to meet all goals, including those for carbon, in a single stand or at a single point in time (15). Consideration of the effects of management actions on carbon require thinking broadly across large spatial scales and long timeframes to determine the true effects on atmospheric greenhouse gases (4). The following topics represent some examples of tradeoffs between carbon and other management goals or intentions; it is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather to illustrate some of the considerations that factor into carbon as one of many management objectives.

Wildlife and Carbon 
The effects of wildlife management activities on carbon vary widely depending on the ecosystem and habitat characteristics of the location in question. For many habitats, management can provide carbon as a co-benefit in addition the many other forest uses and values, but in some cases people may decide to maintain lower carbon stocks as a side effect of pursuing other values, such as wildlife habitat. For example, forest restoration activities for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast United States use thinning and prescribed burning to emulate frequent fire and maintain longleaf pine at low densities, which results in lower carbon densities (16). In the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, management activities to increase forest carbon storage are expected to benefit some wildlife species, such as the northern spotted owl and olive-sided flycatcher (17). Management to maintain high forest carbon levels, however, may not be as conducive with providing habitat for other species more dependent on early seral or less dense conditions like the pileated woodpecker and western bluebird.

Water and Carbon
The provisioning of water is another ecosystem service that, like carbon sequestration, is highly valued within forests and grasslands. Many organizations have land management objectives to protect water quality and maintain water quantity, including the timing and location of delivery (18). Because water is an integral part of ecosystems, land management activities can affect, both positively and negatively, the hydrologic cycle; likewise, changes in the hydrologic cycle—such as those that are occurring as a result of climate change—will invariably affect ecosystem functions including carbon sequestration (18, 19). For example, an analysis of multiple studies of afforestation activities showed substantial reductions in stream flow that lasted multiple decades due to increased water demands from plantation trees (20). At the same time, afforestation practices can improve water quality by reducing erosion, mitigating peak flows, and increasing filtration and groundwater recharge, in addition to providing other important ecosystem benefits (20). In natural (nonplantation) forests, there are many areas in which management can increase both carbon and water benefits. Harvesting woody residue as a source of renewable energy may provide greenhouse gas mitigation benefits by replacing fossil fuel emissions, but these activities may reduce the ability of the forest regulate water quality and quantity or store carbon (21). Lower-intensity silvicultural practices may allow for wood harvest while also supporting water- and carbon-related ecosystem services (21, 22).

Risk Reduction
Observation indicates that risks to ecosystems and their associated human communities from undesired wildfire, insect and disease outbreaks, and invasive species (23, 24) are increasing, and that these can lead to carbon reductions (25). Management actions can often focus on reducing such risks and creating more resilient and adapted systems. Management activities to reduce risk can affect the carbon cycle in numerous, often complex ways. For example, forest management is increasingly used to reduce risk of undesired wildfire by reducing fuel loads, while also meeting management objectives related to restoration of fire-adapted communities (26-28). There is some evidence, described above, to suggest that fuel reduction treatments, which reduce forest carbon in the short term, may have long-term carbon benefits by increasing the growth of the residual stand and reducing risk of catastrophic fire (5, 29, 30). Fuel reduction treatments may have the most substantial carbon benefit when harvest removals are relatively light, near-term fire occurrence is high, the treatments are effective, and thinnings provide wood for energy or products for long-term substitution (6).

References: 

1. Gower, S.T. 2003. Patterns and mechanisms of the forest carbon cycle 1. Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 28(1): 169-204.

2. Heath, L.S.; Smith, J.E.; Birdsey, R.A. 2003. Carbon trends in US forest lands: a context for the role of soils in forest carbon sequestration. 35-45 p.

3. United States Department of Agriculture, U. 2011. US Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2008. Washington, DC: Climate Change Program Office, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 159.

4. Harmon, M.E. 2001. Carbon sequestration in forests: addressing the scale question. Journal of Forestry. 99(4): 24-29.

5. McKinley, D.C.; Ryan, M.G.; Birdsey, R.A.; Giardina, C.P.; Harmon, M.E.; Heath, L.S.; Houghton, R.A.; Jackson, R.B.; Morrison, J.F.; Murray, B.C. 2011. A synthesis of current knowledge on forests and carbon storage in the United States. Ecological Applications. 21(6): 1902-1924.

6. Millar, C.I.; Skog, K.E.; McKinley, D.C.C.; Birdsey, R.A.; Swanston, C.W.; Hines, S.J.; Woodall, C.W.; Reinhardt, E.D.; Peterson, D.L.; Vose, J.M. 2012. Adaptation and mitigation. In: J. M. Vose, D. L. Peterson and T. Patel-Weynand, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 125-192.

7. Bowyer, J.; Bratkovich, S.; Frank, M.; Howe, J.; Stai, S.; Fernholz, K. 2012. Carbon 101: Understanding the carbon cycle and the forest carbon debate. Dovetail Partners.

8. Skog, K.E.; Nicholson, G.A. 2000. Chapter 5: Carbon Sequestration in Wood and Paper Products. In: L. A. Joyce, R. Birdsey and (eds.), eds. The impact of climate change on America's forests: a technical document supporting the 2000 USDA Forest Service RPA Assessment. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

9. Bergman, R.; Puettmann, M.; Taylor, A.; Skog, K.E. 2014. The Carbon Impacts of Wood Products. Forest Products Journal. 64(7-8): 220-231.

10. Skog, K.E. 2008. Sequestration of carbon in harvested wood products for the United States. Forest Products Journal. 58(6): 56-72.

11. Perez-Garcia, J.; Lippke, B.; Comnick, J.; Manriquez, C. 2007. An assessment of carbon pools, storage, and wood products market substitution using life-cycle analysis results. Wood and Fiber Science. 37: 140-148.

12. Harmon, M.E.; Ferrell, W.K.; Franklin, J.F. 1990. Effects on carbon storage of conversion of old-growth forests to young forests. Science(Washington). 247(4943): 699-701.

13. Brunet-Navarro, P.; Jochheim, H.; Muys, B. 2016. Modelling carbon stocks and fluxes in the wood product sector: a comparative review. Global change biology.

14. Helin, T.; Sokka, L.; Soimakallio, S.; Pingoud, K.; Pajula, T. 2013. Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment – a review. GCB Bioenergy. 5(5): 475-486.

15. Ryan, M.G.; Harmon, M.E.; Birdsey, R.A.; Giardina, C.P.; Heath, L.S.; Houghton, R.A.; Jackson, R.B.; McKinley, D.C.; Morrison, J.F.; Murray, B.C. 2010. A synthesis of the science on forests and carbon for US forests.

16. Martin, K.L.; Hurteau, M.D.; Hungate, B.A.; Koch, G.W.; North, M.P. 2015. Carbon tradeoffs of restoration and provision of endangered species habitat in a fire-maintained forest. Ecosystems. 18(1): 76-88.

17. Kline, J.D.; Harmon, M.E.; Spies, T.A.; Morzillo, A.T.; Pabst, R.J.; McComb, B.C.; Schnekenburger, F.; Olsen, K.A.; Csuti, B.; Vogeler, J.C. 2016. Evaluating carbon storage, timber harvest, and potential habitat possibilities for a western Cascades (US) forest landscape. Ecological Applications. n/a-n/a.

18. Brauman, K.A.; Daily, G.C.; Duarte, T.K.e.; Mooney, H.A. 2007. The nature and value of ecosystem services: an overview highlighting hydrologic services. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 32: 67-98.

19. Furniss, M.J. 2010. Water, climate change, and forests: watershed stewardship for a changing climate. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 75.

20. Jackson, R.B.; Jobbágy, E.G.; Avissar, R.; Roy, S.B.; Barrett, D.J.; Cook, C.W.; Farley, K.A.; le Maitre, D.C.; McCarl, B.A.; Murray, B.C. 2005. Trading Water for Carbon with Biological Carbon Sequestration. Science. 310(5756): 1944-1947.

21. Caputo, J.; Beier, C.M.; Groffman, P.M.; Burns, D.A.; Beall, F.D.; Hazlett, P.W.; Yorks, T.E. 2016. Effects of Harvesting Forest Biomass on Water and Climate Regulation Services: A Synthesis of Long-Term Ecosystem Experiments in Eastern North America. Ecosystems. 19(2): 271-283.

22. Creedy, J.; Wurzbacher, A.D. 2001. The economic value of a forested catchment with timber, water and carbon sequestration benefits. Ecological Economics. 38(1): 71-83.

23. Shifley, S.R.; Moser, W.K. 2016. Future forests of the northern United States. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 77-106 p. Available at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/50448.

24. Kurz, W.A.; Dymond, C.C.; Stinson, G.; Rampley, G.J.; Neilson, E.T.; Carroll, A.L.; Ebata, T.; Safranyik, L. 2008. Mountain pine beetle and forest carbon feedback to climate change. Nature. 452(7190): 987-990.

25. Amiro, B.D.; Barr, A.G.; Barr, J.G.; Black, T.A.; Bracho, R.; Brown, M.; Chen, J.; Clark, K.L.; Davis, K.J.; Desai, A.R.; Dore, S.; Engel, V.; Fuentes, J.D.; Goldstein, A.H.; Goulden, M.L.; Kolb, T.E.; Lavigne, M.B.; Law, B.E.; Margolis, H.A.; Martin, T.; McCaughey, J.H.; Misson, L.; Montes-Helu, M.; Noormets, A.; Randerson, J.T.; Starr, G.; Xiao, J. 2010. Ecosystem carbon dioxide fluxes after disturbance in forests of North America. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 115(G4): n/a-n/a.

26. Shinneman, D.J.; Palik, B.J.; Cornett, M.W. 2012. Can landscape-level ecological restoration influence fire risk? A spatially-explicit assessment of a northern temperate-southern boreal forest landscape. Forest Ecology and Management. 274: 126-135.

27. Smith, A.M.S.; Kolden, C.A.; Paveglio, T.B.; Cochrane, M.A.; Bowman, D.M.; Moritz, M.A.; Kliskey, A.D.; Alessa, L.; Hudak, A.T.; Hoffman, C.M.; Lutz, J.A.; Queen, L.P.; Goetz, S.J.; Higuera, P.E.; Boschetti, L.; Flannigan, M.; Yedinak, K.M.; Watts, A.C.; Strand, E.K.; van Wagtendonk, J.W.; Anderson, J.W.; Stocks, B.J.; Abatzoglou, J.T. 2016. The Science of Firescapes: Achieving Fire-Resilient Communities. BioScience. 66(2): 130-146.

28. Ager, A.A.; Vaillant, N.M.; Finney, M.A. 2010. A comparison of landscape fuel treatment strategies to mitigate wildland fire risk in the urban interface and preserve old forest structure. Forest Ecology and Management. 259(8): 1556-1570.

29. Finkral, A.; Evans, A. 2008. The effects of a thinning treatment on carbon stocks in a northern Arizona ponderosa pine forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 255(7): 2743-2750.

30. Boerner, R.E.J.; Huang, J.; Hart, S.C. 2008. Fire, thinning, and the carbon economy: Effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments on estimated carbon storage and sequestration rate. Forest Ecology and Management. 255(8–9): 3081-3097.

 

 

How to cite: 

Janowiak, M.; Swanston, C.; Ontl, T. (May, 2017).  Carbon as One of Many Management Objectives. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/objectives

Reading
Tools
Tools: 

COLE (Carbon OnLine Estimator)
COLE is a versatile and appropriate tool to use for a wide range of carbon estimation needs. COLE draws from Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data to provide basic carbon inventory and growth-and-yield estimates for a particular forest, region, or state. 

ecoSmart Landscapes
This tool can help members of the public, cities and other organizations estimate the carbon and energy impacts of trees. The online tools provide quantitative data on carbon dioxide sequestration and building heating/cooling energy savings afforded by individual trees. Results can be used to estimate the greenhouse gas benefits of existing trees, to forecast future benefits, and to facilitate planning and management of carbon offset projects.

First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM)
FOFEM is a model that predicts first-order fire effects including tree mortality, fuel consumption, emissions (smoke) production, and soil heating caused by prescribed burning or wildfire.

Forest Inventory Data Online (FIDO) and EVALIDator
FIDO and EVALIDator applications both draw from US Forest Service FIA (Forest Inventory and Analysis) data to produce estimates with associated sampling errors for user selected forest attributes. Carbon estimates can be produced for several carbon pools, including total forest carbon, above and belowground carbon in live trees, standing dead trees, and live seedlings shrubs and bushes; litter; soil; and stumps, roots and woody debris.

Forest Planner
The Forest Planner enables landowners to visualize alternative forest management scenarios for their properties. It compares user selected areas to forest stands from a national database to estimate management outcomes including timber stocking and yields, harvest costs and revenues, carbon storage, and fire and pest hazard ratings. The tool does NOT account for the effects of projected climate change on future timber and carbon estimates.

Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS)
Natural resource managers are increasingly interested in the effects of planned management activities on carbon stocks. The Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) is a family of forest growth simulation models that allow a user to explore how silvicultural treatments may affect growth and yield (and, therefore, carbon stocks). "Suppose" is the name for the graphical user interface for FVS.

Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT)
Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT) is a software application that uses fuels data classified as fuelbeds to let users perform a variety of calculations related to fire behavior and emissions. These include predicting surface and crown fire behavior, fuel consumption, pollutant emissions (including carbon emissions), and heat release. The FFT integrates several tools that were previously stand-alone into a single user interface (including the FCCS).

Global Carbon Atlas
The Global Carbon Atlas gives audiences a number of ways to visualize carbon dioxide emissions and flux data, and to compare between countries and regions over time (1960 – 2012). Its products are grouped into three main categories that are intended for users with varied technical backgrounds. All products are based on current datasets and models contributed by scientists and research institutions (see Contributors).

i-Tree
i-Tree consists of several different applications focused on quantifying the benefits of local trees for neighborhoods and communities. Each application has a unique focus, however several calculate the carbon sequestration and/or energy savings benefits of urban trees, including i-Tree Ecoi-Tree Streetsi-Tree Vue, and i-Tree Design (beta).

NASA - CASA Global CQUEST - Carbon Query and Evaluation Support Tools 
This application from NASA provides datasets and a viewer for geographic data that support large-scale carbon inventory. The datasets combine NASA remote sensing technology, ecosystem process modeling, and field-based measurements to characterize impacts on the carbon cycle.

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

CCRC Topics: 

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton MI
Marilyn Buford, formerly National Program Leader for Silviculture Research, US Forest Service (retired)

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Although carbon is a relatively new consideration in land management, it is consistent with sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Land management actions on public and private forests and grasslands can be designed to achieve carbon outcomes while meeting other sustainable resource management objectives. Forests are important in capturing and storing carbon, both onsite and in products, and management of these lands can contribute to mitigating climate change. The following considerations should be at the forefront when considering carbon along with other management objectives:

  1. Emphasize ecosystem function and resilience (Function First). Carbon sequestration capacity depends on sustaining and enhancing ecosystem function. Long-term sequestration should be planned in the context of changing climate and other environmental drivers. Management actions that help maintain resilient forests or transition vulnerable forests to a fully functioning and resilient state are more likely to store sequestered carbon over the long run.
  2. Recognize carbon sequestration as one of many ecosystem services (One of Many Services). Carbon sequestration is one of many ecosystem services provided by forests and grasslands. Strategies for including carbon in forest and grassland management must consider the suite of resources and outcomes desired from management actions. A balanced and comprehensive program of sustainable management will consider many ecosystem services, including carbon sequestered in biomass, soils, and wood products.
  3. Support diversity of approach (Diverse Approaches). Decisions about carbon in America’s forests are influenced by ownership goals, policy, ecology, geography, socioeconomic concerns, and other factors that vary widely. The Forest Service supports a variety of approaches to managing carbon and deriving value from carbon that are compatible with the objectives of different owners. A wide diversity in approaches can also foster rapid learning about forest, grassland, and carbon management in the context of climate adaptation.
  4. Consider system dynamics and scale in decisionmaking (Scale and Timeframe). Different ecosystems sequester carbon in different ways, at different rates, and within differing mosaics of landscape plans and trends. The carbon effects of forest and grassland management options should be evaluated within the carbon dynamics of long timeframes and landscape scales, with explicit consideration of uncertainties and assumptions. Where practical, system dynamics should be broadened beyond the ecosystem to consider full life-cycle impacts of decisions, including carbon storage in forest products and substituting wood-based options for fossil-fuel-intensive applications.
  5. Use the best information and analysis methods (Decision Quality). Forest management and policy decisions should be based on the best available science-based knowledge and information about system response and carbon cycling in forests, grasslands, and wood products. This information should be used wisely by dealing directly with uncertainties, risks, opportunities, and tradeoffs through sound and transparent risk-management practices. Forest plan revision, project-level implementation, and other decision processes should consider tools and approaches that explicitly address uncertainty, risks, and opportunities about climate impacts and forest carbon response.

Including carbon in land management planning activities through these considerations supports the widespread approaches of ecosystem and watershed management and does not require significant alteration of management strategies and approaches. A balanced approach to including carbon in management activities may, however, complement existing objectives and priorities even as it helps mitigate the Nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate adaptation.

How to cite: 

Swanston, C.; Buford, M. (May, 2017). Carbon Considerations in Land Management. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/considerations

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

CCRC Topics: 

Section

Introduction

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI. 
Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.
Todd Ontl, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Terrestrial ecosystems, including forests and grasslands, play an important role in sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2), thereby helping to remove it from the atmosphere and lessening the effects of anthropogenic climate change (1-3). There are a number of greenhouse gas mitigation actions that can help to reduce the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas sources and enhancing carbon sinks in forests and grasslands (4, 5, 3). Ecosystem carbon is of particular interest because of the importance of CO2 and methane (CH4) as important greenhouse gases, as well as the ability of ecosystem vegetation to absorb and sequester CO2 (1, 6). Land management actions can also affect the emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O)—another very potent greenhouse gas—although the role of forest and land management is small regarding this compound.

Forests and grasslands are managed for many different objectives and a variety of goods and services, including timber, range, water, recreation, and wildlife. The amount of carbon absorbed and stored within a particular ecosystem is affected by land use change, management activities, disturbance, the use of harvested wood, and climate.  Carbon may be of interest in developing management plans and options, but rarely is it the primary management objective. These topic pages provide information to support the integration of carbon considerations into land management, particularly in the context of carbon as just one of multiple management objectives. 

Associated Topic Pages

Global Carbon

Forest Soil Carbon

Forest Management for Carbon Benefits

Grassland Carbon and Management

An archived topic page on Forests and Carbon (2013) is available.

References: 

1. United States Department of Agriculture, U. 2011. US Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2008. Washington, DC: Climate Change Program Office, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 159.

2. Stocker, T.; Qin, D.; Plattner, G.; Tignor, M.; Allen, S.; Boschung, J.; Nauels, A.; Xia, Y.; Bex, B.; Midgley, B. 2013. IPCC, 2013: climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

3. King, A.W.; Dilling, L.; Zimmerman, G.; Fairman, D.; Houghton, R.; Marland, G.; Rose, A.; Wilbanks, T. 2007. The first state of the carbon cycle report (SOCCR): The North American carbon budget and implications for the global carbon cycle. The first state of the carbon cycle report (SOCCR): The North American carbon budget and implications for the global carbon cycle.

4. Birdsey, R.; Alig, R.; Adams, D. 2000. Chapter 8: Mitigation Activities in the Forest Sector to Reduce Emissions and Enhance Sinks of Greenhouse Gases. In: L. A. Joyce, R. Birdsey and (eds.), eds. The impact of climate change on America's forests: a technical document supporting the 2000 USDA Forest Service RPA Assessment. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

5. Millar, C.I.; Skog, K.E.; McKinley, D.C.C.; Birdsey, R.A.; Swanston, C.W.; Hines, S.J.; Woodall, C.W.; Reinhardt, E.D.; Peterson, D.L.; Vose, J.M. 2012. Adaptation and mitigation. In: J. M. Vose, D. L. Peterson and T. Patel-Weynand, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 125-192.

6. Murray, B.; Sohngen, B.; Sommer, A.; Depro, B.; Jones, K.; McCarl, B.; Gillig, D.; DeAngelo, B.; Andrasko, K. 2005. Greenhouse gas mitigation potential in US forestry and agriculture. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency. EPA.

 

 

How to cite: 

Janowiak, M.; Swanston, C. (May, 2017). Carbon and Land Management Introduction. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/introduction

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

CCRC Topics: 

Objectives

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI. 
Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.
Todd Ontl, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton, MI.

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Management objectives dictate the decisions land managers make. These objectives vary widely based on the landowner as well as the conditions of the ecosystem in question, and objectives may include any number of desired ecosystem benefits: water protection, wood production, wildlife, specific recreational opportunities, aesthetics, privacy, and more. Greenhouse gas mitigation is thus part of a wider array of management aims for forests and grasslands. Managers may choose to incorporate greenhouse gas mitigation as a management objective for a number of reasons, including increasing forest productivity or deriving benefits from participating in carbon markets. However, focusing solely on carbon could lead to non-optimal management decisions, and, in some situations, managing for carbon benefits may be at odds with other goals.

The tradeoffs inherent in balancing multiple management goals necessitate the recognition that it may not be possible to meet all goals, including those for carbon, in a single stand or at a single point in time (15). Consideration of the effects of management actions on carbon require thinking broadly across large spatial scales and long timeframes to determine the true effects on atmospheric greenhouse gases (4). The following topics represent some examples of tradeoffs between carbon and other management goals or intentions; it is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather to illustrate some of the considerations that factor into carbon as one of many management objectives.

Wildlife and Carbon 
The effects of wildlife management activities on carbon vary widely depending on the ecosystem and habitat characteristics of the location in question. For many habitats, management can provide carbon as a co-benefit in addition the many other forest uses and values, but in some cases people may decide to maintain lower carbon stocks as a side effect of pursuing other values, such as wildlife habitat. For example, forest restoration activities for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast United States use thinning and prescribed burning to emulate frequent fire and maintain longleaf pine at low densities, which results in lower carbon densities (16). In the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, management activities to increase forest carbon storage are expected to benefit some wildlife species, such as the northern spotted owl and olive-sided flycatcher (17). Management to maintain high forest carbon levels, however, may not be as conducive with providing habitat for other species more dependent on early seral or less dense conditions like the pileated woodpecker and western bluebird.

Water and Carbon
The provisioning of water is another ecosystem service that, like carbon sequestration, is highly valued within forests and grasslands. Many organizations have land management objectives to protect water quality and maintain water quantity, including the timing and location of delivery (18). Because water is an integral part of ecosystems, land management activities can affect, both positively and negatively, the hydrologic cycle; likewise, changes in the hydrologic cycle—such as those that are occurring as a result of climate change—will invariably affect ecosystem functions including carbon sequestration (18, 19). For example, an analysis of multiple studies of afforestation activities showed substantial reductions in stream flow that lasted multiple decades due to increased water demands from plantation trees (20). At the same time, afforestation practices can improve water quality by reducing erosion, mitigating peak flows, and increasing filtration and groundwater recharge, in addition to providing other important ecosystem benefits (20). In natural (nonplantation) forests, there are many areas in which management can increase both carbon and water benefits. Harvesting woody residue as a source of renewable energy may provide greenhouse gas mitigation benefits by replacing fossil fuel emissions, but these activities may reduce the ability of the forest regulate water quality and quantity or store carbon (21). Lower-intensity silvicultural practices may allow for wood harvest while also supporting water- and carbon-related ecosystem services (21, 22).

Risk Reduction
Observation indicates that risks to ecosystems and their associated human communities from undesired wildfire, insect and disease outbreaks, and invasive species (23, 24) are increasing, and that these can lead to carbon reductions (25). Management actions can often focus on reducing such risks and creating more resilient and adapted systems. Management activities to reduce risk can affect the carbon cycle in numerous, often complex ways. For example, forest management is increasingly used to reduce risk of undesired wildfire by reducing fuel loads, while also meeting management objectives related to restoration of fire-adapted communities (26-28). There is some evidence, described above, to suggest that fuel reduction treatments, which reduce forest carbon in the short term, may have long-term carbon benefits by increasing the growth of the residual stand and reducing risk of catastrophic fire (5, 29, 30). Fuel reduction treatments may have the most substantial carbon benefit when harvest removals are relatively light, near-term fire occurrence is high, the treatments are effective, and thinnings provide wood for energy or products for long-term substitution (6).

References: 

1. Gower, S.T. 2003. Patterns and mechanisms of the forest carbon cycle 1. Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 28(1): 169-204.

2. Heath, L.S.; Smith, J.E.; Birdsey, R.A. 2003. Carbon trends in US forest lands: a context for the role of soils in forest carbon sequestration. 35-45 p.

3. United States Department of Agriculture, U. 2011. US Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2008. Washington, DC: Climate Change Program Office, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 159.

4. Harmon, M.E. 2001. Carbon sequestration in forests: addressing the scale question. Journal of Forestry. 99(4): 24-29.

5. McKinley, D.C.; Ryan, M.G.; Birdsey, R.A.; Giardina, C.P.; Harmon, M.E.; Heath, L.S.; Houghton, R.A.; Jackson, R.B.; Morrison, J.F.; Murray, B.C. 2011. A synthesis of current knowledge on forests and carbon storage in the United States. Ecological Applications. 21(6): 1902-1924.

6. Millar, C.I.; Skog, K.E.; McKinley, D.C.C.; Birdsey, R.A.; Swanston, C.W.; Hines, S.J.; Woodall, C.W.; Reinhardt, E.D.; Peterson, D.L.; Vose, J.M. 2012. Adaptation and mitigation. In: J. M. Vose, D. L. Peterson and T. Patel-Weynand, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 125-192.

7. Bowyer, J.; Bratkovich, S.; Frank, M.; Howe, J.; Stai, S.; Fernholz, K. 2012. Carbon 101: Understanding the carbon cycle and the forest carbon debate. Dovetail Partners.

8. Skog, K.E.; Nicholson, G.A. 2000. Chapter 5: Carbon Sequestration in Wood and Paper Products. In: L. A. Joyce, R. Birdsey and (eds.), eds. The impact of climate change on America's forests: a technical document supporting the 2000 USDA Forest Service RPA Assessment. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

9. Bergman, R.; Puettmann, M.; Taylor, A.; Skog, K.E. 2014. The Carbon Impacts of Wood Products. Forest Products Journal. 64(7-8): 220-231.

10. Skog, K.E. 2008. Sequestration of carbon in harvested wood products for the United States. Forest Products Journal. 58(6): 56-72.

11. Perez-Garcia, J.; Lippke, B.; Comnick, J.; Manriquez, C. 2007. An assessment of carbon pools, storage, and wood products market substitution using life-cycle analysis results. Wood and Fiber Science. 37: 140-148.

12. Harmon, M.E.; Ferrell, W.K.; Franklin, J.F. 1990. Effects on carbon storage of conversion of old-growth forests to young forests. Science(Washington). 247(4943): 699-701.

13. Brunet-Navarro, P.; Jochheim, H.; Muys, B. 2016. Modelling carbon stocks and fluxes in the wood product sector: a comparative review. Global change biology.

14. Helin, T.; Sokka, L.; Soimakallio, S.; Pingoud, K.; Pajula, T. 2013. Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in life cycle assessment – a review. GCB Bioenergy. 5(5): 475-486.

15. Ryan, M.G.; Harmon, M.E.; Birdsey, R.A.; Giardina, C.P.; Heath, L.S.; Houghton, R.A.; Jackson, R.B.; McKinley, D.C.; Morrison, J.F.; Murray, B.C. 2010. A synthesis of the science on forests and carbon for US forests.

16. Martin, K.L.; Hurteau, M.D.; Hungate, B.A.; Koch, G.W.; North, M.P. 2015. Carbon tradeoffs of restoration and provision of endangered species habitat in a fire-maintained forest. Ecosystems. 18(1): 76-88.

17. Kline, J.D.; Harmon, M.E.; Spies, T.A.; Morzillo, A.T.; Pabst, R.J.; McComb, B.C.; Schnekenburger, F.; Olsen, K.A.; Csuti, B.; Vogeler, J.C. 2016. Evaluating carbon storage, timber harvest, and potential habitat possibilities for a western Cascades (US) forest landscape. Ecological Applications. n/a-n/a.

18. Brauman, K.A.; Daily, G.C.; Duarte, T.K.e.; Mooney, H.A. 2007. The nature and value of ecosystem services: an overview highlighting hydrologic services. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 32: 67-98.

19. Furniss, M.J. 2010. Water, climate change, and forests: watershed stewardship for a changing climate. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 75.

20. Jackson, R.B.; Jobbágy, E.G.; Avissar, R.; Roy, S.B.; Barrett, D.J.; Cook, C.W.; Farley, K.A.; le Maitre, D.C.; McCarl, B.A.; Murray, B.C. 2005. Trading Water for Carbon with Biological Carbon Sequestration. Science. 310(5756): 1944-1947.

21. Caputo, J.; Beier, C.M.; Groffman, P.M.; Burns, D.A.; Beall, F.D.; Hazlett, P.W.; Yorks, T.E. 2016. Effects of Harvesting Forest Biomass on Water and Climate Regulation Services: A Synthesis of Long-Term Ecosystem Experiments in Eastern North America. Ecosystems. 19(2): 271-283.

22. Creedy, J.; Wurzbacher, A.D. 2001. The economic value of a forested catchment with timber, water and carbon sequestration benefits. Ecological Economics. 38(1): 71-83.

23. Shifley, S.R.; Moser, W.K. 2016. Future forests of the northern United States. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 77-106 p. Available at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/50448.

24. Kurz, W.A.; Dymond, C.C.; Stinson, G.; Rampley, G.J.; Neilson, E.T.; Carroll, A.L.; Ebata, T.; Safranyik, L. 2008. Mountain pine beetle and forest carbon feedback to climate change. Nature. 452(7190): 987-990.

25. Amiro, B.D.; Barr, A.G.; Barr, J.G.; Black, T.A.; Bracho, R.; Brown, M.; Chen, J.; Clark, K.L.; Davis, K.J.; Desai, A.R.; Dore, S.; Engel, V.; Fuentes, J.D.; Goldstein, A.H.; Goulden, M.L.; Kolb, T.E.; Lavigne, M.B.; Law, B.E.; Margolis, H.A.; Martin, T.; McCaughey, J.H.; Misson, L.; Montes-Helu, M.; Noormets, A.; Randerson, J.T.; Starr, G.; Xiao, J. 2010. Ecosystem carbon dioxide fluxes after disturbance in forests of North America. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 115(G4): n/a-n/a.

26. Shinneman, D.J.; Palik, B.J.; Cornett, M.W. 2012. Can landscape-level ecological restoration influence fire risk? A spatially-explicit assessment of a northern temperate-southern boreal forest landscape. Forest Ecology and Management. 274: 126-135.

27. Smith, A.M.S.; Kolden, C.A.; Paveglio, T.B.; Cochrane, M.A.; Bowman, D.M.; Moritz, M.A.; Kliskey, A.D.; Alessa, L.; Hudak, A.T.; Hoffman, C.M.; Lutz, J.A.; Queen, L.P.; Goetz, S.J.; Higuera, P.E.; Boschetti, L.; Flannigan, M.; Yedinak, K.M.; Watts, A.C.; Strand, E.K.; van Wagtendonk, J.W.; Anderson, J.W.; Stocks, B.J.; Abatzoglou, J.T. 2016. The Science of Firescapes: Achieving Fire-Resilient Communities. BioScience. 66(2): 130-146.

28. Ager, A.A.; Vaillant, N.M.; Finney, M.A. 2010. A comparison of landscape fuel treatment strategies to mitigate wildland fire risk in the urban interface and preserve old forest structure. Forest Ecology and Management. 259(8): 1556-1570.

29. Finkral, A.; Evans, A. 2008. The effects of a thinning treatment on carbon stocks in a northern Arizona ponderosa pine forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 255(7): 2743-2750.

30. Boerner, R.E.J.; Huang, J.; Hart, S.C. 2008. Fire, thinning, and the carbon economy: Effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments on estimated carbon storage and sequestration rate. Forest Ecology and Management. 255(8–9): 3081-3097.

 

 

How to cite: 

Janowiak, M.; Swanston, C.; Ontl, T. (May, 2017).  Carbon as One of Many Management Objectives. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/objectives

Reading
Tools
Tools: 

COLE (Carbon OnLine Estimator)
COLE is a versatile and appropriate tool to use for a wide range of carbon estimation needs. COLE draws from Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data to provide basic carbon inventory and growth-and-yield estimates for a particular forest, region, or state. 

ecoSmart Landscapes
This tool can help members of the public, cities and other organizations estimate the carbon and energy impacts of trees. The online tools provide quantitative data on carbon dioxide sequestration and building heating/cooling energy savings afforded by individual trees. Results can be used to estimate the greenhouse gas benefits of existing trees, to forecast future benefits, and to facilitate planning and management of carbon offset projects.

First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM)
FOFEM is a model that predicts first-order fire effects including tree mortality, fuel consumption, emissions (smoke) production, and soil heating caused by prescribed burning or wildfire.

Forest Inventory Data Online (FIDO) and EVALIDator
FIDO and EVALIDator applications both draw from US Forest Service FIA (Forest Inventory and Analysis) data to produce estimates with associated sampling errors for user selected forest attributes. Carbon estimates can be produced for several carbon pools, including total forest carbon, above and belowground carbon in live trees, standing dead trees, and live seedlings shrubs and bushes; litter; soil; and stumps, roots and woody debris.

Forest Planner
The Forest Planner enables landowners to visualize alternative forest management scenarios for their properties. It compares user selected areas to forest stands from a national database to estimate management outcomes including timber stocking and yields, harvest costs and revenues, carbon storage, and fire and pest hazard ratings. The tool does NOT account for the effects of projected climate change on future timber and carbon estimates.

Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS)
Natural resource managers are increasingly interested in the effects of planned management activities on carbon stocks. The Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) is a family of forest growth simulation models that allow a user to explore how silvicultural treatments may affect growth and yield (and, therefore, carbon stocks). "Suppose" is the name for the graphical user interface for FVS.

Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT)
Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT) is a software application that uses fuels data classified as fuelbeds to let users perform a variety of calculations related to fire behavior and emissions. These include predicting surface and crown fire behavior, fuel consumption, pollutant emissions (including carbon emissions), and heat release. The FFT integrates several tools that were previously stand-alone into a single user interface (including the FCCS).

Global Carbon Atlas
The Global Carbon Atlas gives audiences a number of ways to visualize carbon dioxide emissions and flux data, and to compare between countries and regions over time (1960 – 2012). Its products are grouped into three main categories that are intended for users with varied technical backgrounds. All products are based on current datasets and models contributed by scientists and research institutions (see Contributors).

i-Tree
i-Tree consists of several different applications focused on quantifying the benefits of local trees for neighborhoods and communities. Each application has a unique focus, however several calculate the carbon sequestration and/or energy savings benefits of urban trees, including i-Tree Ecoi-Tree Streetsi-Tree Vue, and i-Tree Design (beta).

NASA - CASA Global CQUEST - Carbon Query and Evaluation Support Tools 
This application from NASA provides datasets and a viewer for geographic data that support large-scale carbon inventory. The datasets combine NASA remote sensing technology, ecosystem process modeling, and field-based measurements to characterize impacts on the carbon cycle.

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

CCRC Topics: 

Considerations

Topics Horizontal Tabs

Synthesis
Synthesis: 

Preparers

Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, US Forest Service, Houghton MI
Marilyn Buford, formerly National Program Leader for Silviculture Research, US Forest Service (retired)

This topic page was developed using information from the report Considering Forest and Grassland Carbon in Land Management (WO-GTR-95).

Although carbon is a relatively new consideration in land management, it is consistent with sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Land management actions on public and private forests and grasslands can be designed to achieve carbon outcomes while meeting other sustainable resource management objectives. Forests are important in capturing and storing carbon, both onsite and in products, and management of these lands can contribute to mitigating climate change. The following considerations should be at the forefront when considering carbon along with other management objectives:

  1. Emphasize ecosystem function and resilience (Function First). Carbon sequestration capacity depends on sustaining and enhancing ecosystem function. Long-term sequestration should be planned in the context of changing climate and other environmental drivers. Management actions that help maintain resilient forests or transition vulnerable forests to a fully functioning and resilient state are more likely to store sequestered carbon over the long run.
  2. Recognize carbon sequestration as one of many ecosystem services (One of Many Services). Carbon sequestration is one of many ecosystem services provided by forests and grasslands. Strategies for including carbon in forest and grassland management must consider the suite of resources and outcomes desired from management actions. A balanced and comprehensive program of sustainable management will consider many ecosystem services, including carbon sequestered in biomass, soils, and wood products.
  3. Support diversity of approach (Diverse Approaches). Decisions about carbon in America’s forests are influenced by ownership goals, policy, ecology, geography, socioeconomic concerns, and other factors that vary widely. The Forest Service supports a variety of approaches to managing carbon and deriving value from carbon that are compatible with the objectives of different owners. A wide diversity in approaches can also foster rapid learning about forest, grassland, and carbon management in the context of climate adaptation.
  4. Consider system dynamics and scale in decisionmaking (Scale and Timeframe). Different ecosystems sequester carbon in different ways, at different rates, and within differing mosaics of landscape plans and trends. The carbon effects of forest and grassland management options should be evaluated within the carbon dynamics of long timeframes and landscape scales, with explicit consideration of uncertainties and assumptions. Where practical, system dynamics should be broadened beyond the ecosystem to consider full life-cycle impacts of decisions, including carbon storage in forest products and substituting wood-based options for fossil-fuel-intensive applications.
  5. Use the best information and analysis methods (Decision Quality). Forest management and policy decisions should be based on the best available science-based knowledge and information about system response and carbon cycling in forests, grasslands, and wood products. This information should be used wisely by dealing directly with uncertainties, risks, opportunities, and tradeoffs through sound and transparent risk-management practices. Forest plan revision, project-level implementation, and other decision processes should consider tools and approaches that explicitly address uncertainty, risks, and opportunities about climate impacts and forest carbon response.

Including carbon in land management planning activities through these considerations supports the widespread approaches of ecosystem and watershed management and does not require significant alteration of management strategies and approaches. A balanced approach to including carbon in management activities may, however, complement existing objectives and priorities even as it helps mitigate the Nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate adaptation.

How to cite: 

Swanston, C.; Buford, M. (May, 2017). Carbon Considerations in Land Management. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/carbon-land-mgmt/considerations

Videos
Videos: 


An overview of a set of tools that assess how climate change might influence tree distributions in the eastern U.S.

Presenter : Louis Iverson

Forest management options for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration in forests.

Presenter : Maria Janowiak

What is a carbon neutrality number and how can we ensure that wood used to produce energy makes sense from a carbon offset standpoint?

Presenter : Ken Skog

The effect of disturbances, such as increased fires and insect attacks, will drive ecosystem change as much or more than warmer temperatures from climate change.

Presenter : Dave Peterson

See how climate change and increased disturbances from fire, insects and other sources will affect the forest carbon cycle. Carbon losses can be fully recovered, if the forest regenerates after the disturbance and if given enough time.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

Learn about gross primary production, photosynthesis, respiration and senescence, and the effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 and ozone on forest stand productivity.

Presenter : Christian Giardina

Wondering about carbon offsets, credits, baselines, permanence and leakage? Get the carbon basics here and find out why forest offsets could be a bridge to the future.

Presenter : Sarah Hines

Andrea Tuttle takes a look at forest carbon markets and how these can be used to capture and hold carbon on the landscape.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Presents a western U.S. perspective on forest management for carbon sequestration, and the above and below- ground carbon consequences of different management strategies.

Presenter : Bernard Bormann

The Eastern U.S. forest perspective on carbon sequestration and examples of forest carbon management projects.

Presenter : Richard Birdsey

Get the scoop on forestland carbon storage in the United States, which helps offset approximately 12% of US carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Presenter : Christopher Woodall

Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.

Presenter : Rebecca McCulley

Climate drives insect outbreaks in forests; insect outbreaks can then influence climate through the carbon cycle.

Presenter : Jeffrey Hicke

Andrea Tuttle discusses the drivers of deforestation, current international approaches to reducing emissions and lessons learned from REDD pilot programs.

Presenter : Andrea Tuttle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Presenter : Chris Swanston

The largest terrestrial carbon pool is contained in soils. Carbon stored in soils plays a number of important roles, including keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and improving moisture and nutrient retention.

Presenter : Luke Nave

Trees in cities provide important ecosystem services and help to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower building energy use.

Presenter : David Nowak

Find about the many tools that are available from the US Forest Service for forest carbon estimation, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Presenter : Coeli Hoover

Tropical forests are critical ecosystems affecting the Earth's climate and hydrological cycles, and human cultures. Learn more about how they may be affected by climate change.

Presenter : J Boone Kauffman

U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.

Presenter : Mike Ryan

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