Forest Carbon Dynamics in the Pacific Northwest (USA) and the St. Petersburg Region of Russia: Comparisons and Policy Implications
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Forests of the United States and Russia can play a positive role in reducing the extent of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. To determine the extent of carbon sequestration, physical, ecological, economic, and social issues need to be considered, including different forest management objectives across major forest ownership groups. Private timberlands in the U.S. Pacific Northwest are relatively young, well stocked, and sequestering carbon at relatively high rates. Forests in northwestern Russia are generally less productive than those in the Northwestern U.S. but cover extensive areas. A large increase in carbon storage per hectare in live tree biomass is projected on National Forest timberlands in the U.S. Pacific Northwest for all selected scenarios, with an increase of between 157–175 Mg by 2050 and a near doubling of 1970s levels. On private timberlands in the Pacific Northwest, average carbon in live tree biomass per hectare has been declining historically but began to level off near 65 Mg in 2000; projected levels by 2050 are roughly what they were in 1970 at approximately 80 Mg. In the St. Petersburg region, average carbon stores were similar to those on private lands in the Pacific Northwest: 57 Mg per hectare in 2000 and ranging from 40 to 64 Mg by 2050. Although the projected futures reflect a broad range of policy options, larger differences in projected carbon stores result from the starting conditions determined by ownership, regional environmental conditions, and past changes in forest management. However, an important change of forest management objective, such as the end of all timber harvest on National Forests in the Pacific Northwest or complete elimination of mature timber in the St. Petersburg region, can lead to substantial change in carbon stores over the next 50 years.
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