Researchers at OSU have done a lot of good work on this topic and their findings tend to suggest a few things that don't quite jibe with the previous post.
It is true that younger forests sequester carbon at a faster rate than older forests, but the math just doesn't work out when you start cutting down old growth and replanting trees in an effort to reduce overall global warming impact. The math doesn't work out because it takes over 100 years to get close to restoring the amount of carbon stored in a forest filled with big old trees. That's because old growth forests STORE carbon at a far greater capacity than do young forests.
I've seen in prior posts and heard on the show the concept that wood products can store some of the carbon when you cut down trees. It is true that wood products can store SOME of the carbon, but not that much and not for as long as a standing forest. The problem is that not all of the carbon stored in a forest is stored in the trees. Much of the carbon is pumped into the soil beneath the tree. When you log, the carbon release from the soil combined with the common practice of slash burning and the loss of carbon during processing, makes it so that only about 15% of the original carbon stored in the tree makes it to a wood product. Worse yet, that wood product could be a 2x4 which might have a somewhat long life (although not as long as a healthy forest) but it also could be paper or pallets which have very short lifespans and will likely be transformed into atmospheric carbon pretty soon down the road.
A whole different idea that has great merit if executed wisely is to incentivize private forest owners to let there forests grow longer and reduce the impacts they have on the soil when they do log.
Also, when we are talking about this concept of "what is a standing tree worth" let's remember two things. 1) Standing forests have all sorts of benefits for water quality for clean drinking water, species habitat, recreation opportunities and more. and 2) We shouldn't reduce our world-renowned forests to a simple game of economic calculation. Our forests, specifically the little old growth that we have left standing, are, in many respects, beyond economic measurement.
See more at: http://www.oregonwild.org/oregon_forests/global-warming-and-northwest-forests
posted 4 years, 9 months ago
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