U.S. Forest Service Valuing Ecosystem Services
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Carbon Sequestration

Interest in terrestrial carbon sequestration has increased in an effort to explore opportunities for climate change mitigation. Carbon sequestration is the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees, grasses, and other plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (trunks, branches, foliage, and roots) and soils. The sink of carbon sequestration in forests and wood products helps to offset sources of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, such as deforestation, forest fires, and fossil fuel emissions.

Sustainable forestry practices can increase the ability of forests to sequester atmospheric carbon while enhancing other ecosystem services, such as improved soil and water quality. Planting new trees and improving forest health through thinning and prescribed burning are some of the ways to increase forest carbon in the long run. Harvesting and regenerating forests can also result in net carbon sequestration in wood products and new forest growth.

In response to government, business, and individual commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, carbon is now a priced environmental commodity in the global marketplace. The United States carbon market is in its formative stages. States and regions are developing climate change strategies and policy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and mandatory markets are forming at the regional and state levels. The Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Program, established by Section 1605(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, provides a means for organizations and individuals - including forest landowners and other land managers - to record their baseline emissions and emission reductions.

Going carbon neutral…

The voluntary “retail” market is growing as more and more individuals and entities seek to purchase carbon offsets to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint or become “carbon neutral.” By allowing the broader public to engage in climate protection, the voluntary market advances societal awareness of climate change and the impacts of consumer behavior. Learn more:

Feature Publications

Helpful Websites


Location: http://www.fs.fed.us/ecosystemservices/carbon.shtml
Updated: May 14, 2013 8:52 AM