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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions

Forest Carbon Management in the United States


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 4, p. 1461-1469
    Received: Apr 30, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): rbirdsey@fs.fed.us
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  1. Richard Birdsey *a,
  2. Kurt Pregitzerb and
  3. Alan Lucierc
  1. a USDA Forest Service, 11 Campus Boulevard, Suite 200, Newtown Square, PA 19073
    b School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295
    c National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, PO Box 13318, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


This paper reviews the effects of past forest management on carbon stocks in the United States, and the challenges for managing forest carbon resources in the 21st century. Forests in the United States were in approximate carbon balance with the atmosphere from 1600–1800. Utilization and land clearing caused a large pulse of forest carbon emissions during the 19th century, followed by regrowth and net forest carbon sequestration in the 20th century. Recent data and knowledge of the general behavior of forests after disturbance suggest that the rate of forest carbon sequestration is declining. A goal of an additional 100 to 200 Tg C/yr of forest carbon sequestration is achievable, but would require investment in inventory and monitoring, development of technology and practices, and assistance for land managers.

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Copyright © 2006. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA