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Modern, sustainable forest management leads to climate-smart outcomes in working forests.

Outcome 1

Stable or Increasing Carbon Stocks at a Landscape Level

More carbon enters the forest landscape carbon pool than leaves it, indicating the forest is acting as a carbon sink.

How do we know this is true?
  • The USDA Forest Service reports carbon changes on land at a landscape level through the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) National Program.
    • See Prisley and Sonne Hall 2023 for an example of how this methodology can be applied at the regional scale and how it relates to other forest indicators.
  • The Forest Service Sustainability Reporting, (McGinley et al 2023) publishes data on the following indicators:
    • Total forest ecosystem carbon pools and fluxes (Indicator 5.22)
    • Total forest product carbon pools and fluxes (Indicator 5.23)
    • Avoided fossil fuel carbon emissions by using forest biomass for energy (Indicator 5.24)
Ensuring carbon stocks are stable or increasing at a landscape level:

Certification systems have sustainable yield indicators to guide land managers to plan for sustainable harvests.

  • See Sustainable Forestry Initiative Performance Measure 1.1 (Appendix 1): “Certified Organizations shall ensure that forest management plans include long-term harvest levels that are sustainable and consistent with appropriate growth-and-yield models.”
  • Forest Stewardship Council Indicator
Natural Disturbances and Carbon Stocks:

In some cases, carbon stocks will decrease at the landscape level due to high mortality and natural disturbances. This outcome should be looked at with the other outcomes such as forest health and climate resiliency.

Ensuring Forest Management is Climate Smart

In the U.S., assurances are in place to verify that our forests are sustainably managed and climate smart through a mosaic of overlapping and mutually reinforcing local, state, and federal environmental laws and regulations, state-approved forestry best management practices (BMPs), and third-party forest management and wood fiber sourcing certification programs.

NAFO’s Environmental Benefits Report

Did you know that private working forests are one of the most environmentally valuable natural resources in the U.S. but one of the least understood? To learn more about the positive impacts of sustainable forest management on carbon, water, and wildlife, check out this comprehensive report from the National Alliance of Forest Owners.