Effects on Carbon Storage of Conversion of Old-Growth Forests to Young Forests

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Science  09 Feb 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4943, pp. 699-702
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4943.699


Simulations of carbon storage suggest that conversion of old-growth forests to young fast-growing forests will not decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in general, as has been suggested recently. During simulated timber harvest, on-site carbon storage is reduced considerably and does not approach old-growth storage capacity for at least 200 years. Even when sequestration of carbon in wooden buildings is included in the models, timber harvest results in a net flux of CO2 to the atmosphere. To offset this effect, the production of lumber and other long-term wood products, as well as the life-span of buildings, would have to increase markedly. Mass balance calculations indicate that the conversion of 5 x 109 to 1.8 x 109 megagrams of carbon to the atmosphere.

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