Active, responsible forest management, including use of wood products, provides greater carbon mitigation benefits than no management, finds new report

MINNEAPOLIS , November 15, 2011 (press release) – A new report from Dovetail Partners, a Minneapolis-based non-profit, examines forest carbon relationships and the multiple roles that forests play in carbon and climate mitigation.

The new report summarizes an analysis completed by the Society of American Foresters. “A key finding is that sustainably managed forests can provide greater carbon mitigation benefits than unmanaged forests” says Jim Bowyer, a co-author of the SAF analysis and author of the Dovetail summary report. Specifically, notes Bowyer, “a policy of active and responsible forest management is more effective in capturing and storing carbon than a policy of no management.”

Bowyer points out that responsible management, including the use of wood products provides carbon benefits while also delivery a wide range of other benefits, including jobs and economic opportunities.

An important outcome of the research review is the finding that energy and environmental policies need to be based on an understanding of the multiple benefits of forests and wood products.

About one-half the dry weight of wood is carbon. Carbon is also contained in the bark, branches, roots, and leaves of trees, and within forest soils. In the growth process, trees capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; combine it with water drawn from the ground, and produce sugars that are then converted into wood. Oxygen is released as a by-product.

Another important consideration that is highlighted in both reports is that atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are increasing primarily because of the release of fossil fuel-based carbon. Fossil fuel-based carbon is not restored to the earth on anything less than a geologic time scale.

“The difference between this, and carbon releases when wood from sustainably managed forests are used in producing energy is fundamental,” says Bowyer, who notes that carbon flows from forests and other vegetation, the oceans, and the atmosphere, are an ongoing part of the natural carbon cycle.

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