Forestry

Forests accumulate carbon both above and below ground as well as in soil pools. The amount of carbon sequestered is determined by both soil and vegetation type. Carbon can be sequestered for decades, even centuries, until the forest reaches its point of saturation, unless the carbon is released prematurely through forest fire, natural decay, or harvesting.

According to the EPA, the following table outlines forestry practices that sequester carbon.

Based on the data collected by the EPA, U.S. forests and croplands currently sequester more than 600 teragrams (Tg) of CO2 equivalent. This equals 170 Tg or million metric tons of carbon equivalent. This is an amount equivalent to 12 percent of the total U.S. CO2 emissions from the energy, transportation, and industrial activities of the nation.

Forestry Practices That Sequester Carbon

FORESTRY PRACTICES

DEFINITION AND

examples

EFFECT on greenhouse GASES

Afforestation

Tree planting on lands previously not part of forests, such as the conversion of cropland to trees.

Increases carbon storage through sequestration.

reforestation

Planting trees on lands that used to be forested, such as replanting areas burned by forest fires.

Increases carbon storage through sequestration.

Forest preservation or avoided deforestation

Protection of forests that are threatened by logging or clearing.

Avoids CO2 emissions through the conservation of existing carbon stocks.

Forest management

Modifying forest practices that produce wood products to prolong sequestration of carbon, such as not harvesting as often.

Increases carbon storage by sequestration. Also avoids CO2 emissions by changing land-management practices.

Source: EPA

One of the biggest contributors to upsetting the natural carbon balance is deforestation, especially of the world's rain forests. This photo shows deforestation presently occurring in Madagascar. Once deforested, hillsides are vulnerable to erosion. (Rhett Butler, Mongabay.com)

On a worldwide level, roughly 20 percent of the world's annual CO2 emissions originate mainly from deforestation in the world's tropical regions of South and Central America, Asia, and Africa. This represents a huge input of CO2 into the atmosphere in return for alternative uses of the land. Generally, the high-carbon biomass is removed in the trees, and the land is then used for crops or grazing (these activities store much less carbon than forests).

A long-term storehouse of carbon is in the world's forests. Carbon will remain stored in the biomass (trees, shrubs, and other vegetation) until it dies, is burned, or is purposefully cut down. (Nature's Images)

If the United States wants to further offset/reduce CO2 emissions-such as by the 7 percent stated in the Kyoto Protocol—by planting trees, it would require planting an area as big as the state of Texas every 30 years. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The protocol sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997, and came into force on February 16, 2005. To date, 184 countries have ratified the protocol. The United States, although a signatory to the protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the protocol, making it nonbinding. The reason

President George W. Bush did not submit the treaty for Senate ratification was because both China and India were considered undeveloped countries and held exempt from greenhouse emission control. China is currently the world's largest gross emitter of CO2.

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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