Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Journal of Forestry Supplement

Thanks to Terry Seyden for finding this; I’ve been carrying this special section around trying to find time to read it.

New Analysis of Carbon Accounting, Biomass Use, and Climate Benefits

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2011) — A recent report provides new ideas surrounding carbon and energy benefits forests and forest products provide. The report, Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Integrating Energy, Products, and Land Management Policy, summarizes and analyzes the most recent science regarding forests and carbon accounting, biomass use, and forest carbon offsets.
A team of researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, several universities, and natural resource and environmental organizations coauthored the report, which appears as a supplement to the October/November 2011 issue of the Society of American Forester’s Journal of Forestry.
” This work should help policymakers reconsider the critical impact forests have on our daily lives and the potential they have to solve problems that confront our Nation,” says Bob Malmsheimer, lead author of the report and a professor at State University of New York (Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “We believe our science-based findings should lead toward positive reforms that encourage investment in this vital renewable resource.”

The report suggests that U.S. environment and energy policies should be based on the following science findings:

Sustainably managed forests can provide carbon storage and substitution advantages while delivering a wide range of environmental and social benefits including timber and biomass resources, jobs, economic opportunities, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
Energy produced from forest biomass returns to the atmosphere carbon that plants absorbed in the relatively recent past; it essentially results in no net release of carbon as long as overall forest inventories are stable or increasing (as with U.S. forests).
Forest products used in place of energy-intensive materials such as metals, concrete, and plastics reduce carbon emissions (because forest products require less fossil fuel-based energy to produce and they also store carbon for a length of time based on their use and disposal), and they provide biomass residuals (i.e., waste wood) that can be substituted for fossil fuels to produce energy.
Fossil fuel-produced energy releases carbon into the atmosphere that has resided in the Earth for millions of years; forest biomass-based energy uses far less of the carbon stored in the Earth, thereby reducing the flow of fossil fuel-based carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

“Perhaps this report will inspire fresh efforts to find management strategies that folks can agree on,” says coauthor and Forest Service scientist Jeremy Fried. “The forest inventory and analysis data collected by the Forest Service on all forested lands in the U.S. provided the data necessary to explore how forests can be managed to provide climate benefits. Full life-cycle analyses of U.S. forests show that the best opportunity for these forests to provide even more climate benefits requires a combination of factors. Those factors are: sustainably managed forests, a healthy market for long-lived forest products, and renewable energy generated from forest and mill residues.”

The report emerged from the Society of American Foresters Task Force on Forest Climate Change Offsets and Use of Forest Biomass for Energy. Authors include Robert Malmsheimer, State University of New York (Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry; James Bowyer, Professor Emeritus of University of Minnesota; Jeremy Fried, U.S. Forest Service; Edmund Gee, U.S. Forest Service; Robert Izlar, University of Georgia; Reid Miner, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement; Ian Munn, Mississippi State University; Elaine Oneil, University of Washington; and William Stewart, University of California-Berkeley.

Read the paper online here.

1 thought on “Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Journal of Forestry Supplement”

  1. wow. Managing forests for carbon storage. I wrote a paper on this topic once, for EPA, nearly 20 years ago. It seemed like a (really) poor idea then (although, being young, I didn’t state that conclusion directly; only inferred it), and nothing presented in intervening years has done much to change my mind:

    Part of the government (taxpayer)-funded multi-billion dollar Global Warming industry.

    From my perspective, the best thing about this study is the self-identification of the recipients of these funds; the true (and possibly only) real beneficiaries of this kind of work — unless litigious environmental groups and their lawyers begin using it, too. The worst thing about it is some agencies may be using this information in future planning efforts. My guess is that private (“taxpaying”) landowners that pay attention to this stuff are few and far between, and for good reason.

    “Climate benefits.” wow. This is the type of thing that caused me to terminate my membership with SAF in the 1990s.

    (Qualifying statement: As I get older, I notice that my tendencies toward curmudgeonly perspectives and statements seems to be increasing. It’s a mostly enjoyable process, off-setting some of the more unpleasant aspects of aging, but should probably be taken into account when considering my written opinions on this topic and others. I can’t tell if we’re wasting good brainpower on these types of exercises, money that could be put to much better uses in other endeavors, or both. Either way, it continues to be a perceived misuse of resources on my part, and irritating.)


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