Storing carbon or growing forests?

Citation: Land Use Policy 121: 2022

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Forest managers should promote the long-term growth of forests rather than maximize their short-term accumulation of carbon. Contemporary economic and political interests favor rapidly storing carbon in global forests. Against this background, forest managers are expected to contribute to mitigating planetary climate change by sharply increase forest carbon stocks. Building up the global forest growing stock too rapidly ignores the long-term cycles that govern forest growth dynamics. A further flaw in the strategy stems from the fact that anticipated changes in future climate argue against indiscriminately maximizing the carbon stock over the next two or three decades.4 A range of forest practices from planting site specific species to more comprehensive landscape management offer a path to better long-term forest growth. We claim that past climate policies have taken a narrow view that favors rapidly accumulating forest carbon stocks to the detriment of management options that focus on improving long term forest growth and ecosystem health.

Keywords: Forest management, Carbon Sink, Forest growth dynamics

Areas of Research: Energy and Climate, Forests, Farms and Materials