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 Eastern Region. For the Eastern Region as a whole, carbon stocks in the HWP pool were increasing steadily from 100,000 megagrams of carbon (MgC) per year in the early 1950s up to 416,000 MgC in 1987, with peak cumulative storage to date of slightly less than 12.7 million MgC occurring in 2013. Net positive flux into the HWP pool over this period is primarily attributable to high harvest levels in the 1980s and 1990s. Harvest levels have declined since the 1990s and have been erratic since the year 2000, yet carbon entering the HWP pool continues to increase. The Eastern Region HWP pool has always been in a state 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 Eastern Region as a whole, this accounting method can be applied more broadly at smaller land management units, such as National Forests.
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 Eastern Region, 1911-2012. Unpublished report. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory. 27 p.