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Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from United States Forest Service Northern Region, 1906-2012

Informally Refereed
Authors: Keith Stockmann, Nathaniel Anderson, Jesse Young, Ken Skog, Sean Healey, Dan Loeffler, Edward Butler, J. Greg Jones, James Morrison
Year: 2014
Type: Other
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1750-0680-7-1
Source: Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.

Abstract

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 1906 to 2012 for the USFS Northern Region. For the Northern Region as a whole, carbon stocks in the HWP pool were increasing at approximately 680,000 megagrams of carbon (MgC) per year in the early1950s through the mid-1990s, with peak cumulative storage of 34.1 million MgC occurring in 1995. Net positive flux into the HWP pool over this period is primarily attributable to high harvest levels in the early1960s through the early 1990s. In the years between the early-1960s and the late 1970s timber harvests were at high levels and experienced moderate variability, with high harvests of over 3.1 million ccf (2.3 million MgC) occurring four times during this period. Harvest levels from National Forests of the Northern Region have since declined to less than 450,000 ccf (340,000 MgC) per year, resulting in less carbon entering the HWP pool. Since 1996, emissions from HWP at solid waste disposal sites exceeded additions from harvesting, resulting in a decline in the total amount of carbon stored in the HWP pool. The Northern Region's HWP pool is now in a period of negative net annual stock change because the decay of products harvested between 1906 and 2012 exceeds additions of carbon to the HWP pool through harvest. 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 Northern Region as a whole, this accounting method can be applied more broadly at smaller land management units, such as National Forests.

Keywords

carbon, harvested wood products, Northern Region

Citation

Stockmann, Keith; Anderson, Nathaniel; Young, Jesse; Skog, Ken; Healey, Sean; Loeffler, Dan; Butler, Edward; Jones, J. Greg; Morrison, James. 2014. Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from United States Forest Service Northern Region, 1906-2012. Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.
Citations
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/46647