The Answer: Carbon Sequestration

Posted: November 30, 2015


Beetle kill pine log deckForest carbon sequestration is a fanciful term for how much carbon capture there is in a given forest. In other words, what is the carbon storage in a forest? There really is no rule of thumb figure that can describe just how much carbon a forest can capture and store. It depends on the forest environment. Every forest is different and has different capacities for storing carbon. To take a broad view of the subject, it all boils down to the fact that trees are very efficient at capturing and storing CO2. In general the more vigorous growth there is in a forest the more carbon it can capture andstore.

Being concerned, environmentally conscious, loggers we have to find the best ways to harvest and manage a forest. The key is to practice sustainable forestry. Everything we do in the forest while we are there will impact how much carbon sequestration that forest is capable of. So let’s look at a few things that have the greatest amount of impact on the carbon capture and carbon storage of a given forest.


Selective Harvesting

Any time a tree is harvested in a forest, that forest loses a bit of its carbon capture abilities. However, if we harvest trees in a way that encourages new vigorous growth, then that tree’s carbon capture will be replaced very quickly by that new growth. The new growth may even exceed the capacity of the tree that it is replacing.

By opening up the canopy of the forest a bit we have allowed more sunlight to penetrate that canopy resulting in more new growth. The trees that are left behind will grow bigger, faster. The more wood volume and foliage a forest contains the more CO2 can be absorbed. On the other hand, if we clear cut a forest we have almost completely decimated its capacity for carbon storage. By removing all the trees we will have removed all the wood volume and most of the foliage. Most forests are much better at carbon sequestration than pastures or other grasslands.


Low Impact Logging

Another thing we have to look at as responsible progressive loggers is how much we disturb the soil in the forest. Forest soil can contain many times the carbon that is stored in the trees. This carbon comes from rotting leaves and limbs, as well as what is contained in the roots of the tress. Breaking multiple skid paths will result in more and more carbon being released into the air. The less we disturb the soil the less carbon will be released.

It is a good idea and a sustainable practice to make as few skid paths as possible. Plan out your skid path to reach your logs without making too many skid trails. Even better use lightweight skidding systems such as horses and ATVs. As environmental concern increases over the years we may see more and more folks going back to the old ways and logging with horses.