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Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from United States Forest Service Southwestern Region, 1909-2012

Author(s):

Edward Butler
Keith Stockmann
J. Greg Jones
James Morrison

Year:

2014

Publication type:

Other

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Source:

Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.

Description

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 at the scale of smaller 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 1909 to 2012 for the USFS Southwestern Region, (R3). For the Southwestern Region as a whole, carbon stocks in the HWP pool were growing at an average rate of 0.11 million megagrams of carbon (MgC) per year in a steady increase from its origin until its peak cumulative storage of 9.7 million MgC in 1994. Net positive flux into the HWP pool over this period correlates closely with harvest levels. In the years between the late 1960s and 1989 timber harvest continued at high but notably volatile levels. Within this net growth period, a significant crash which bottomed in 1982 rebounded to new peak of 0.76 million MgC in 1989. Carbon entering the HWP declined steeply thereafter beginning in 1990, when harvests ultimately fell over the next six years to less than 1/10th of their peak levels. Since 1995, emissions from HWP at solid waste disposal sites have exceeded additions from harvesting, resulting in a decline in the total amount of carbon stored in the HWP pool. The Southwestern Region's HWP pool is now in a period of negative net annual stock change because the decay of products harvested between 1909 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 Southwestern Region as a whole, this accounting method can be applied more broadly at smaller land management units, such as National Forests.

Citation

Butler, Edward; Stockmann, Keith; Anderson, Nathaniel; Young, Jesse; Skog, Ken; Healey, Sean; Loeffler, Dan; Jones, J. Greg; Morrison, James. 2014. Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from United States Forest Service Southwestern Region, 1909-2012. Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.

Publication Notes

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/46642