Northern Research Station News Releases

Forest Service Debuts State-by-State Statistics on Carbon as Part of National Greenhouse Gas Reporting

Estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and removals are compiled by the Forest Service and are based primarily on national forest inventory data collected and maintained by the Forest Inventory and Analysis program. Hiawatha National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo. Madison, WI, April 28, 2020 - For the first time, a new publication by the USDA Forest Service delivers an overview of the status and trends of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from forest land, woodlands, hardwood products, and urban trees nationally for 49 U.S. states. 

"This year, we are delivering a report that is 49 times more useful than it was a year ago," said Grant Domke, a research forester with Forest Inventory and Analysis in the Forest Service's Northern Research Station. "From forest managers to policy makers,  data on the role of forests in the carbon cycle is critical to decisions that will shape the future of the Nation's forests."

Titled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals from Forest Land, Woodlands, and Urban Trees in the United States, 1990-2018,” the resource update is available online through the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station at: https://doi.org/10.2737/FS-RU-227.

The estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and removals were developed by Forest Service scientists as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Greenhouse Gas Report, which was released on April 13.

Estimates include the movement of carbon from the atmosphere into living trees, dead wood and soil as well as emissions from forest fires. The only state not included in the report is Hawaii, where data were not available.

The report revealed that collectively, forested land, harvested wood products, and urban trees accounted for more than 95% of what is called the land carbon sink, how carbon is stored in natural systems, in the US.  The carbon removed from the atmosphere and stored in forests, harvested wood, and urban trees is equal to more than 11% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States every year between 1990 and 2018.

“The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program has served states for 90 years by producing reliable statistics on forest trends,” said Tony Ferguson, Director of two Forest Service research organizations, the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. “This year marks another evolution in our service to states as we expand the availability of data on forests and carbon storage.”  

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The mission of the Northern Research Station is to improve people's lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

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The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation's surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


Last modified: April 28, 2020