Forests, Forest Products, and Carbon in the U.S.

Apr 29, 2015
By Jeff Bradley
Manager, Forestry & Wood Products Policy

America does pretty well when it comes to storing carbon in our forests and forest products – deforestation isn’t an issue here. In 2011, U.S. forests captured and stored about 15 percent of all the carbon dioxide released from fossil emissions in the U.S.  That number likely will stay steady in the near future as long as our forests continue to grow and wood users continue to make forest products that store carbon or be recycled into new products.

So how do we make sure we increase the carbon stored in our forests and forest products?

The Forest Policy Forum (Forum) - a group of U.S. landowners, conservation groups, and mill owners - developed principles to help these valuable resources continue reduction of total carbon emissions. The Forum focused on maintaining and growing areas that makes up a large portion of the forested landscape –managed forests in the United States.

The Forum principles are:

  1. Managed Forests are part of the solution;
  2. Support for healthy, resilient, and growing forests supports that solution;
  3. Recognition of the positive carbon contribution of managed forests and forest products helps realize that solution;
  4. Understanding incentives and disincentives and their effects on forests is key to the carbon solution; and
  5. Support innovation in the Forest Products Sector that supports long-term benefits for addressing the carbon challenge.

Globally deforestation, much of which is occurring in developing countries, is the second leading contributor to carbon emissions worldwide…right after fossil fuel emissions.  Fortunately that’s not the case in the U.S., and we should work to keep our managed forests as forests – for all the benefits they provide. To learn more, check out this report prepared by Dovetail Partners that provides additional details on the Forest Policy Forum and has some interesting facts about our U.S. forests.