USDA's Forest Report Highlights Impending Carbon Mitigation Challenges
Take a look at the latest USDA's Forest Report which details the latest projection of forest conditions in the U.S.
A major assessment of the future American forest warns that forest land will begin to lose its ability to mitigate carbon emissions during the next 10 years, according to the report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Stress from a reduction in the volume of forest land coupled with natural disasters are among the causes of carbon withdrawal from the atmosphere.
However, the report warns that an aging forest composition is problematic because older trees’ carbon absorption slows.
The Future of America’s Forest and Rangeland report warns of “future disturbance (including wildfires), forest conversion to developed land, and forest aging, along with rising demand for forest products” for the change in carbon capacity. is projected to influence carbon futures both in terms of the amount of carbon forests will store (carbon stocks) and the annual rate at which forests store carbon through forest growth”.
“Currently, carbon accumulation through growth both in forests and in the amount of carbon stored in harvested wood offsets more than 10 percent of economy-wide carbon emissions annually,” according to the report. “However, forest growth rates are projected to slow as forests age, disturbance increases, and forests are converted to other land uses.”
The report projects from a base year of 2020 to 2070. It warns that forests may become a net source of carbon by 2070 vs. its current status capturing carbon equivalent to about 10 percent emissions from the U.S. economy.
The report is issued every 10 years and includes multiple detailed projections of forest growth.
It projects that forest management efforts including plantation activities and prescribed burns can help maintain carbon sequestration capacity. “Active forest management has also been used to improve forest growth and health, including the development of forest plantations, which focuses timber production on a smaller land base.”
The entire report chapter on Forest Resources can be found here: