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Forests 2012, 3(2), 283-299; doi:10.3390/f3020283

Site Productivity and Forest Carbon Stocks in the United States: Analysis and Implications for Forest Offset Project Planning

USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 271 Mast Road, Durham, NH, USA
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Received: 30 March 2012 / Revised: 21 May 2012 / Accepted: 30 May 2012 / Published: 4 June 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Forests for Carbon Capture and Storage)
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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.
Keywords: Forest Inventory and Analysis database; soil moisture regime; aboveground live biomass carbon; site productivity Forest Inventory and Analysis database; soil moisture regime; aboveground live biomass carbon; site productivity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hoover, C.M.; Smith, J.E. Site Productivity and Forest Carbon Stocks in the United States: Analysis and Implications for Forest Offset Project Planning. Forests 2012, 3, 283-299.

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