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Title: Site productivity and forest carbon stocks in the United States: Analysis and implications for forest offset project planning

Author: Hoover, Coeli M.; Smith, James E.

Year: 2012

Publication: Forests. 3: 283-299.

Abstract: The documented role of United States forests in sequestering carbon, the relatively low cost of forest-based mitigation, and the many co-benefits of increasing forest carbon stocks all contribute to the ongoing trend in the establishment of forest-based carbon offset projects. We present a broad analysis of forest inventory data using site quality indicators to provide guidance to managers planning land acquisition for forest-based greenhouse gas mitigation projects. Specifically, we summarize two condition class indicators of site productivity within the FIA forest inventory database--PHYSCLCD and SITECLCD--as they relate to current aboveground live tree carbon stocks. Average carbon density is higher on more productive sites, but compared to the overall variability among sites, the differences are relatively small for all but the highest and lowest site classes. Some minor differences in eastern- versus western-forests were apparent in terms of how carbon on the least productive sites differed from most other forest land over time. Overall results suggest that xeric sites in most regions as well as sites that correspond to the lowest, non-productive classifications of forest land should preferentially not be used forestry-based greenhouse gas mitigation projects, but all other forest areas appear to be suitable.

Last Modified: 6/5/2012

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