A view of the Umpqua National Forest, Ore., and some of the country's 741 million acres of forestland that sequester atmospheric carbon; Mount Thielsen is on the horizon. USDA Forest Service photo.
Forests provide many critical ecosystem services, including the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. Forest carbon storage capacity can be directly impacted by climate change mitigation policies based on existing ecosystem service valuations. A recent special issue in the journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, co-edited by research forester Jeff Kline of the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Leroy Hansen of the USDA Economic Research Service, shared the latest research evaluating ecosystem services provided by forests and agricultural lands. The special issue also included research by Kline and others that estimated the value of forest carbon sequestration and potential policy impacts on forest carbon storage capacity.
Together with researchers from the Northern Research Station, Southern Research Station, and Portland State University, Kline estimated the present and future value of carbon sequestered in U.S. forests through 2050. They evaluated the potential effects of various climate change mitigation policies on total forest carbon storage, including increased tree planting, reduced loss of forestland to development, and reduced wildfire. Of the policies they evaluated, afforestation –planting trees in areas without recent tree cover– and reforestation would provide the greatest increase in carbon benefits, far exceeding policy cost. This information is pertinent for policymakers and managers tasked with maintaining forest ecosystem services.