Land use policies affect levels of carbon sequestration
Researchers used the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model-Greenhouse Gases Model to analyze alternative policy scenarios and compare their potential influence on land use and thereby affect carbon sequestration and other environmental and economic benefits. The 'business as usual' scenario suggests that the amount of forest land converted to more developed uses will be substantial, causing significant net release of greenhouse gases currently stored in those forests. Scenarios involving carbon-related payments to U.S. private forest-land owners led to increase in carbon sequestration. Modeling results do suggest that carbon-related payments to forestry or agriculture landowners can substantially affect future land use patterns, levels of terrestrial carbon sequestration, forest resource conditions, agricultural production trends, and bioenergy production.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA's Global Change Program Office, and U.S. Congressional staff have used the models and findings from this work to analyze legislative proposals that address climate change and new policies that impact land use, such as the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act and the Conservation Reserve provisions of the 2008 farm bill. The research is also being used to inform decisionmaking under the Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program, and it has attracted international recognition. Australia consulted with the scientists for advice on addressing climate change, and spinoff modeling systems have been developed in Europe and elsewhere.
Forest Service Partners