Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 433–442

Carbon Stocks and Projections on Public Forestlands in the United States, 1952–2040


DOI: 10.1007/s00267-003-9101-x

Cite this article as:
Smith, J. & Heath, L. Environmental Management (2004) 33: 433. doi:10.1007/s00267-003-9101-x


Approximately 37% of forestlands in the conterminous United States are publicly owned; they represent a substantial area of potential carbon sequestration in US forests and in forest products. However, large areas of public forestlands traditionally have been less intensively inventoried than privately owned forests. Thus, less information is available about their role as carbon sinks. We present estimates of carbon budgets on public forestlands of the 48 conterminous states, along with a discussion of the assumptions necessary to make such estimates. The forest carbon budget simulation model, FORCARB2, makes estimates for US forests primarily based on inventory data. We discuss methods to develop consistent carbon budget estimates from inventory data at varying levels of detail. Total carbon stored on public forestlands in the conterminous US increased from 16.3 Gt in 1953 to the present total of 19.5 Gt, while area increased from 87.1 million hactares to 92.1 million hactares. At the same time the proportion of carbon on public forestlands relative to all forests increased from 35% to 37%. Projections for the next 40 years depend on scenarios of management influences on growth and harvest.


Carbon sequestration Carbon flux Carbon budget Forest inventory FORCARB 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceNortheastern Research Station, P.O. Box 640, Durham, New Hampshire 03824USA

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