Nation's Forests Hold Lots of Carbon

Nation's Forests Hold Lots of Carbon

A lot of industrial greenhouse gas is offset by forests.

The USDA Forest Service reports that 41.4 billion metric tons of carbon is currently stored in the nation's forests and due to increases in the total area of forest land and increases in the carbon stored per acre, an additional 192 million metric tons of carbon are sequestered each year. The additional carbon sequestered annually offsets roughly 11% of the country's industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notes that America's forests play a critical role in combating climate change, collectively capturing and storing significant amounts of carbon that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere. National forests contain an average of 77.8 metric tons of carbon per acre: a greater density than on private lands where 60.7 metric tons of carbon per acre or other public forest lands with 68.3 metric tons of carbon per acre are stored.

The Forest Service Report points out that, on average, the amount of carbon stored in forestland has increased over the past two decades. Also, carbon stored per acre can increase with increasing stand age, an increase in stand density, or it can decrease due to disturbances, such as fire. The new estimates are based on fresh 2010 data from annual forest inventories.

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