The Role of Wood Products in Forest Carbon AccountingPosted: January 29, 2014
Source: Forest 2 Market
The ongoing controversy over forest carbon accounting reminds me of the H.L. Mencken quote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” The clear and simple answers for complex questions such as when to start the carbon accounting clock, for example, are oftentimes fraught witherror.
How should we go about accounting for the many ways a tree continues to sequester carbon after a harvest? We know forest carbon accounting systems must account for:
- Forest inputs such as fertilizer and herbicides
- Moisture and material loss
- Electricity used to transform raw wood material to wood pellets
- Fuel (diesel) used to harvest trees and transport materials from the forest to the boiler
Methods to interpret other variables that considerably affect forest carbon – forest composition, geography and past land use, for instance – are less clear. Environmental stressors such as hurricanes or pest outbreaks and economic pressures like conversion to crop land and urbanization contribute to imbalanced carbon accounting ledgers. Add to this the difficulties of applying the same set of measurement criteria to different wood markets, and we have a complex problem indeed.