How can we manage forests for carbon?
We want to make sure that Vermont’s forests store a large amount of carbon and that the annual rate of carbon sequestration is high, however, these two processes peak at different stages of forest development. Older forests store more carbon than younger forests, but they sequester it at a slower rate. Age diversity within a forest and across the landscape is the best way to maximize both storage and sequestration, plus diversity is a good strategy for climate resilience, too.
Carbon stored in durable wood products like furniture, cabinets, floors, and buildings is secured as long as the product is in use. There are many houses in Vermont that contain carbon that was sequestered by trees hundreds of years ago. Other wood products, like paper or cardboard, also store carbon, but for shorter periods. We can also get additional benefits if wood products are used as a substitute for concrete, steel, or fossil fuels, thus avoiding emissions from the transport and manufacture of these high-intensity products.
What can forest managers do to increase carbon storage and mitigate climate change?
Researchers looked at how forest management scenarios affected climate mitigation in Vermont. Surprisingly, some of the biggest impacts came from wood substituting for other building products or fuels. See the Northeast Climate HUB for an overview of their findings.
NAICS Climate Change Response Framework: Managing for Forest Carbon