[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 9-Nov-2011
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Contact: Sherri Richardson Dodge
srichardsondodge@fs.fed.us
503-808-2137
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station

Report provides new analysis of carbon accounting, biomass use, and climate benefits

IMAGE: Substituting woody-residue-sourced bioenergy for fossil fuels confers immediate, and permanent, climate benefits.

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- A recent report provides new ideas regarding carbon and energy benefits forests and forest products provide. The report, Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters: Integrating Energy, Products, and Land Management Policy, summarizes and analyzes the most recent science regarding forests and carbon accounting, biomass use, and forest carbon offsets.

A team of researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, several universities, and natural resource and environmental organizations coauthored the report, which appears as a supplement to the October/November 2011 issue of the Society of American Forester's Journal of Forestry.

"This work should help policymakers reconsider the critical impact forests have on our daily lives and the potential they have to solve problems that confront our Nation," says Bob Malmsheimer, lead author of the report and a professor at State University of New York (Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "We believe our science-based findings should lead toward positive reforms that encourage investment in this vital renewable resource."

IMAGE: Keeping forests as forests prevents greenhouse gas emissions. But active forest management provides even more climate benefits.

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The report suggests that U.S. environment and energy policies should be based on the following science findings:

IMAGE: Converting forests to other uses, whether agriculture or housing, leads to carbon emissions and immediate loss of further carbon sequestration.

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"Perhaps this report will inspire fresh efforts to find management strategies that folks can agree on," says coauthor and Forest Service scientist Jeremy Fried. "The forest inventory and analysis data collected by the Forest Service on all forested lands in the U.S. provided the data necessary to explore how forests can be managed to provide climate benefits. Full life-cycle analyses of U.S. forests show that the best opportunity for these forests to provide even more climate benefits requires a combination of factors. Those factors are: sustainably managed forests, a healthy market for long-lived forest products, and renewable energy generated from forest and mill residues."

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The report emerged from the Society of American Foresters Task Force on Forest Climate Change Offsets and Use of Forest Biomass for Energy. Authors include Robert Malmsheimer, State University of New York (Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry; James Bowyer, Professor Emeritus of University of Minnesota; Jeremy Fried, U.S. Forest Service; Edmund Gee, U.S. Forest Service; Robert Izlar, University of Georgia; Reid Miner, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement; Ian Munn, Mississippi State University; Elaine Oneil, University of Washington; and William Stewart, University of California-Berkeley.

Read the paper online at http://www.safnet.org/documents/JOFSupplement.pdf.

(Note: Photos available on request.)

The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories and centers in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, and about 425 employees.



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