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Carbon Storage And Carbon Credits For Forest Management The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


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How forests can help with co2

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Carbon Storage And Carbon Credits For Forest Management The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

  1. 1. Carbon Storage and Carbon Credits for Forest Management: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Mike Ryan USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Fort Collins, CO 80526 [email_address]
  2. 2. From SOCCR Report: Why does the carbon cycle matter? CO 2 absorbs radiation from earth and warms it Rising CO 2 increases ocean acidity CO 2 was not higher than 280 ppm for > 400,000 years Rising CO 2 shows an imbalance between sources and sinks
  3. 3. Global C Cycle <ul><li>Reservoirs in plants and soil are similar to fossil fuels </li></ul><ul><li>Fluxes to and from plants and soil are large </li></ul>Fluxes – how much enters and how much leaves a pool per unit time Pools – how much C is in a given location
  4. 4. From SOCCR Report: US forests and long-lived wood products offset about 12-20% of fossil-fuel emissions North America Mt = (10 12 g) CCSP, 2007. The First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle .
  5. 5. 10% is Huge! <ul><li>To get another 10%: </li></ul><ul><li>Convert entire US auto fleet to hybrid gas mileage </li></ul><ul><li>Convert 1/3 current Ag land to forests. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why the Uncertainty? <ul><li>SOCCR Report includes large estimates for carbon stored in soil (highly uncertain). </li></ul><ul><li>Woodbury et al (2007) has a much lower rate for carbon stored in soil. </li></ul>
  7. 7. US Forest Carbon Balance 1800-1950: Forest Disturbance on a Massive Scale-the Industrial Revolution Birdsey, R., K. Pregitzer, and A. Lucier. 2006. Forest carbon management in the United States: 1600-2100. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1461-1469. In 1915, emissions from forests were 760 million tons C per year Photo courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, KIN084. ?
  8. 8. In 2000, sequestration by forests was ~200 million tons C per year US Forest Carbon Balance 1950 to 2008: Forest Regrowth on a Massive Scale Birdsey, R., K. Pregitzer, and A. Lucier. 2006. Forest carbon management in the United States: 1600-2100. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1461-1469. Photo by Mike Ryan
  9. 9. Forest carbon has a cycle: after disturbance, loss and recovery Photo by Mike Ryan Photo by Dan Kashian Photo by National Park Service Photo by Mike Ryan
  10. 10. Ecosystems that regenerate forests after disturbance (harvesting, fire, bugs) will recover all of the carbon lost
  11. 11. The larger the landscape, the more stable the carbon seems
  12. 12. How Does Fire Change Forest Carbon? Fire kills trees, it doesn’t consume them; Fire losses of foliage and forest floor are only ~10-20% of the site carbon Photo by Dan Kashian Photo by AZ Dept Emergency Mgmt
  13. 13. Fire would reduce carbon storage on the YNP landscape only if stand-replacing fires become much more frequent (return intervals < 50 yrs)
  14. 14. What happens with no regeneration? Example: Hayman Fire, Colorado, 2002 Photo by Merrill Kaufmann, USFS
  15. 15. Bottom line: After a fire, if a forest replaces itself, there is little net loss or gain of carbon over a fire cycle
  16. 16. What about MPB Outbreak? Example: Colorado, 1998-? Photo by Merrill Kaufmann, USFS
  17. 17. Forest Ecology – Bottom Line <ul><li>Disturbance does not cause C loss, unless forest does not regenerate </li></ul><ul><li>Carbon is best evaluated over large scales of space and time </li></ul><ul><li>The timing isn’t important </li></ul>Photo by Mike Ryan
  18. 18. Scale of the Problem <ul><li>Our C emissions are ~ 2 Petagrams C/yr (10^15 g)/yr </li></ul><ul><li>For afforestation on cropland to take up another 10% of US emissions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>44 million ha of crop or pastureland would need to be planted with trees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1/3 of current cropland </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source: Jackson and Schlesinger, PNAS 2006 </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Tropical Deforestation <ul><li>Emissions for Tropical Deforestation: 1-2 Petagrams (10^15 g/year) – about the same as US fossil fuel emissions </li></ul>
  20. 20. There’s More! <ul><li>Albedo – forests may absorb more energy than what they replace </li></ul><ul><li>Forest management may produce more potent greenhouse gases: NOx, isoprene, negating carbon stores </li></ul><ul><li>Are the forest stores permanent? </li></ul><ul><li>Ecological effects of afforesting prior non-forested land – lower water yield </li></ul>
  21. 21. Carbon Markets - Kyoto Regulated <ul><li>Afforestation (no forest for 50 years) or reforestation (forested but cleared before 1990) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate additionality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate no leakage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Only 1% of portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>High costs, uncertain future, high complexity in science, legal, and business. </li></ul><ul><li>Protection of existing forests does not count. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Carbon Markets - Voluntary <ul><li>Currently the Chicago Climate Exchange and Private Sales and Registries </li></ul><ul><li>Current price is ~$1.65/ton CO 2 ($6/ton C) on the CCS </li></ul><ul><li>Private Markets are $3-$20 ton CO 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Key is ‘Additionality’ </li></ul><ul><li>Currently allowed by CCX: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Afforestation (plant trees where none are) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biomass Fuels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soil C sequestration (Agriculture) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No Universal Standards – ‘Wild West’ </li></ul>
  23. 23. National Forest Foundation
  24. 24. The Good <ul><li>Keeping forests as forests, particularly in the tropics (monitoring, paying for; do we need additionality?) </li></ul><ul><li>Afforestation of previously forested lands (leakage issues…) – tree planting in the Hayman. </li></ul><ul><li>Forest fuel offsets fossil fuel combustion (transportation, logging costs). </li></ul><ul><li>Forest management – decreasing outputs with longer rotations or less intensive harvest (Increase disturbance loss?) </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Bad-or at least very uncertain (for Carbon) <ul><li>Treatments to avoid fire emissions – Fire losses are 1-3%/yr; thinning removes 50% of biomass </li></ul><ul><li>Leakage (development or deforestation occurs on other land) </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive, short rotation forest management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intensive management uses C and emits NOx </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. The Ugly <ul><li>Coal mining – Carbon Credits for Reforesting Land Strip-Mined for Coal </li></ul>Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
  27. 27. Take Home <ul><li>We understand forest C cycle at stand and landscape scale. </li></ul><ul><li>Moving beyond simple applications gets very complicated quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to be honest about accounting for public to gain trust. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to consider time. </li></ul><ul><li>Retaining forests (including regeneration after disturbance), biomass fuels, and afforestation where forests were historically are best options </li></ul>