Carbon

An Infographic showing the Natural Boom & Bust Cycle of Forest Carbon.
The Natural Boom and Bust Cycle of Forest Carbon

The U.S Forest Service is a leader in developing tools for carbon assessment, management, and forest carbon cycle science. The Forest Service champions the principles of considering carbon and other benefits together, integrating climate adaptation and mitigation, and balancing carbon uptake and storage in a wide range of ecosystem services, some of which have trade-offs.

Developed by the Climate Change Resource Center, this carbon infographic provides a quick overview of the carbon cycle, carbon measurement scales, equivalencies and carbon management activities.

Learn more about carbon sequestration.

Carbon Assessments

Our forests (national forests, private, and other public) provide an important ecosystem service in the form of carbon sequestration – the uptake and storage of carbon in forests and wood products. This service is becoming more valuable as the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are becoming more fully understood and experienced. The Forest Service has always led efforts to practice, develop, and demonstrate sound and sustainable management of forest-based resources. The management of forest carbon is no exception.

An infographic showing the closed loop of Forest Service in the Atmosphere.
The Closed Loop of Forest Carbon in the Atmosphere | Carbon Cycle

The Forest Service has developed regional carbon assessment reports to help forest managers and the public understand how much carbon is stored in forest ecosystems and harvested wood products (HWP). The baseline forest carbon reports provide information from the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data on carbon stocks and trends for seven different forest ecosystem carbon pools – above-ground live tree, below-ground live tree, standing dead, understory, down dead wood, forest floor, and soil organic carbon – for the baseline period 1990 to 2013 (and 2005 to 2013, truncation of the longer baseline). These reports also provide estimates of carbon stored in HWP over longer time periods depending upon data availability. This is provided as a nationally consistent data set with which we can better understand geographic differences and important trends.

Carbon stock and trend information, in conjunction with companion assessments on forest carbon disturbances (currently being developed) will help inform forest managers and the public of the relationship between carbon storage and past management and disturbance impacts. This will help us begin to consider short and long-term carbon consequences of alternative forest management strategies.

Tools for Carbon Inventory, Management, and Reporting

Scientists at the US Forest Service Northern Research Station have developed a toolbox of calculation tools to help quantify forest carbon for planning and reporting. Tools include “PRESTO” (an online tool for estimating carbon stored in harvested wood products); “COLE” (Carbon online estimate for forest carbon analysis); and many others. 

An infographic showing the Carbon Bathtub of National Forests.
The Carbon Bathtub of National Forests | Carbon Dynamics

Available Carbon Assessment Reports

Carbon Resources