Active Forest Management to Help Maximize Long-Term Carbon Benefits

Sep 30, 2021 3:00 PM ET

Active Forest Management to Help Maximize Long-Term Carbon Benefits

While it may seem counterintuitive, selectively removing trees from the forest through harvesting is often the best way to maximize the benefits that forests provide for mitigating climate change.

Forest carbon sequestration rates and storage levels change as forests naturally evolve. Young, fast-growing forests have the highest carbon sequestration rates, while older, mature forests have higher levels of carbon storage. In decaying forests, both carbon sequestration and storage are reduced until regeneration restarts the carbon cycle.

Careful harvesting maximizes carbon sequestration by promoting new growth and boosts carbon storage by retaining older trees. Active forest management can also decrease the risk of forest disturbance from catastrophic events such as wildfire, drought, and pests. These events, which release vast amounts of forest carbon, are predicted to increase with climate change. This is not only problematic for mitigating climate change but also for communities that live close to these forests, as evidenced by recent wildfires in the western United States. 

Read more from Sappi North America's 2020 Sustainability Report here