Global forests capture and store significant amounts of carbon through photosynthesis. When carbon is removed from forests through harvest, a portion of the harvested carbon is stored in wood products, often for many decades. The United States Forest Service (USFS) and other agencies are interested in accurately accounting for carbon flux associated with harvested wood products (HWP) to meet greenhouse gas monitoring commitments and climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives. National-level forest carbon accounting has been in place for over a decade, but there is an increasing need for accounting for smaller scale administrative units, including USFS National Forest System regions and individual National Forests. This paper uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) production accounting approach to estimate HWP carbon storage from 1911 to 2012 for the USFS Southern Region. For the Southern Region as a whole, carbon stocks in the HWP pool were increasing at approximately 400,000 megagrams of carbon (MgC) per year in the late 1950s through the early 1980s, with peak cumulative storage to date of 24.9 million MgC occurring in 2012. Net positive flux into the HWP pool over this period is primarily attributable to high harvest levels in the mid-1950s through the mid-1990s. Harvest levels have been erratic since the late 1990s, yet carbon entering the HWP pool continues to increase. Following 5 years beginning in 2002 when emissions from HWP at solid waste disposal sites exceeded additions from harvesting, the Southern Region HWP pool is now in a period of positive net annual stock change because additions of carbon to the HWP pool through harvest exceeds the decay of products harvested between 1911 and 2012. Together with estimates of ecosystem carbon, which are also being developed through the Forest Management Carbon Framework (ForCaMF), Regional level estimates of HWP carbon flux can be used to inform management decisions and guide climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts by the agency. Though our emphasis is on the Southern Region as a whole, this accounting method can be applied more broadly at smaller land management units, such as National Forests.
harvested wood products
Loeffler, Dan; Anderson, Nathaniel; Stockmann, Keith; Skog, Ken; Healey, Sean; Jones, J. Greg; Morrison, James; Young, Jesse. 2014. Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from United States Forest Service Southern Region, 1911-2012. Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.