Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 307–323

Carbon storage potential of harvested wood: summary and policy implications

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11027-010-9267-5

Cite this article as:
Ingerson, A. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2011) 16: 307. doi:10.1007/s11027-010-9267-5


Within national greenhouse gas inventories, many countries now use widely-accepted methodologies to track carbon that continues to be stored in wood products and landfills after its removal from the forest. Beyond simply tracking post-harvest wood carbon, expansion of this pool has further been suggested as a potential climate change mitigation strategy. This paper summarizes data on the fate of carbon through the wood processing chain and on greenhouse gas emissions generated by processing, transport, use and disposal of wood. As a result of wood waste and decomposition, the carbon stored long-term in harvested wood products may be a small proportion of that originally stored in the standing trees—across the United States approximately 1% may remain in products in-use and 13% in landfills at 100 years post-harvest. Related processing and transport emissions may in some cases approach the amount of CO2e stored in long-lived solid wood products. Policies that promote wood product carbon storage as a climate mitigation strategy must assess full life-cycle impacts, address accounting uncertainties, and balance multiple public values derived from forests.


Carbon sequestrationGreenhouse gas emissionsHarvested wood productsOffsetsLife-cycle assessment

Supplementary material

11027_2010_9267_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 28 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Wilderness SocietyCraftsbury CommonUSA