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Title: The role of reforestation in carbon sequestration

Abstract

In the United States (U.S.), the maintenance of forest cover is a legal mandate for federally managed forest lands. More broadly, reforestation following harvesting, recent or historic disturbances can enhance numerous carbon (C)-based ecosystem services and functions. These include production of woody biomass for forest products, and mitigation of atmospheric CO2 pollution and climate change by sequestering C into ecosystem pools where it can be stored for long timescales. Nonetheless, a range of assessments and analyses indicate that reforestation in the U.S. lags behind its potential, with the continuation of ecosystem services and functions at risk if reforestation is not increased. In this context, there is need for multiple independent analyses that quantify the role of reforestation in C sequestration, from ecosystems up to regional and national levels. Here, we describe the methods and report the findings of a large-scale data synthesis aimed at four objectives: (1) estimate C storage in major ecosystem pools in forest and other land cover types; (2) quantify sources of variation in ecosystem C pools; (3) compare the impacts of reforestation and afforestation on C pools; (4) assess whether these results hold or diverge across ecoregions. The results of our synthesis support four overarching inferencesmore » regarding reforestation and other land use impacts on C sequestration. First, in the bigger picture, soils are the dominant C pool in all ecosystems and land cover types in the U.S., and soil C pool sizes vary less by land cover than by other factors, such as spatial variation or soil wetness. Second, where historically cultivated lands are being reforested, topsoils are sequestering significant amounts of C, with the majority of reforested lands yet to reach their capacity relative to the potential indicated by natural forest soils. Third, the establishment of woody vegetation delivers immediate to multi-decadal C sequestration benefits in aboveground woody biomass and coarse woody debris pools, with two- to three-fold C sequestration benefits in biomass during the first several decades following planting. Fourth, opportunities to enhance C sequestration through reforestation vary among the ecoregions, according to current levels of planting, typical forest growth rates, and past land uses (especially cultivation). Furthermore, our results suggest that an immediate, but phased and spatially targeted approach to reforestation can enhance C sequestration in forest biomass and soils in the U.S. for decades to centuries to come.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [2];  [4];  [2];  [5]
  1. Univ. of Michigan, Pellston, MI (United States); Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  2. USDA-Forest Service, St. Paul, MN (United States)
  3. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
  4. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  5. USDA-Forest Service, Houghton, MI (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station; National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1487130
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
New Forests
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 50; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0169-4286
Publisher:
Springer Nature
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Biomass; ECOMAP; Land cover; forest ecosystem; land use; soil; soil organic carbon

Citation Formats

Nave, Luke E., Walters, B. F., Hofmeister, K. L., Perry, C. H., Mishra, U., Domke, G. M., and Swanston, C. W. The role of reforestation in carbon sequestration. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1007/s11056-018-9655-3.
Nave, Luke E., Walters, B. F., Hofmeister, K. L., Perry, C. H., Mishra, U., Domke, G. M., & Swanston, C. W. The role of reforestation in carbon sequestration. United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-018-9655-3
Nave, Luke E., Walters, B. F., Hofmeister, K. L., Perry, C. H., Mishra, U., Domke, G. M., and Swanston, C. W. Mon . "The role of reforestation in carbon sequestration". United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-018-9655-3. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1487130.
@article{osti_1487130,
title = {The role of reforestation in carbon sequestration},
author = {Nave, Luke E. and Walters, B. F. and Hofmeister, K. L. and Perry, C. H. and Mishra, U. and Domke, G. M. and Swanston, C. W.},
abstractNote = {In the United States (U.S.), the maintenance of forest cover is a legal mandate for federally managed forest lands. More broadly, reforestation following harvesting, recent or historic disturbances can enhance numerous carbon (C)-based ecosystem services and functions. These include production of woody biomass for forest products, and mitigation of atmospheric CO2 pollution and climate change by sequestering C into ecosystem pools where it can be stored for long timescales. Nonetheless, a range of assessments and analyses indicate that reforestation in the U.S. lags behind its potential, with the continuation of ecosystem services and functions at risk if reforestation is not increased. In this context, there is need for multiple independent analyses that quantify the role of reforestation in C sequestration, from ecosystems up to regional and national levels. Here, we describe the methods and report the findings of a large-scale data synthesis aimed at four objectives: (1) estimate C storage in major ecosystem pools in forest and other land cover types; (2) quantify sources of variation in ecosystem C pools; (3) compare the impacts of reforestation and afforestation on C pools; (4) assess whether these results hold or diverge across ecoregions. The results of our synthesis support four overarching inferences regarding reforestation and other land use impacts on C sequestration. First, in the bigger picture, soils are the dominant C pool in all ecosystems and land cover types in the U.S., and soil C pool sizes vary less by land cover than by other factors, such as spatial variation or soil wetness. Second, where historically cultivated lands are being reforested, topsoils are sequestering significant amounts of C, with the majority of reforested lands yet to reach their capacity relative to the potential indicated by natural forest soils. Third, the establishment of woody vegetation delivers immediate to multi-decadal C sequestration benefits in aboveground woody biomass and coarse woody debris pools, with two- to three-fold C sequestration benefits in biomass during the first several decades following planting. Fourth, opportunities to enhance C sequestration through reforestation vary among the ecoregions, according to current levels of planting, typical forest growth rates, and past land uses (especially cultivation). Furthermore, our results suggest that an immediate, but phased and spatially targeted approach to reforestation can enhance C sequestration in forest biomass and soils in the U.S. for decades to centuries to come.},
doi = {10.1007/s11056-018-9655-3},
journal = {New Forests},
number = 1,
volume = 50,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}

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Cited by: 3 works
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Works referenced in this record:

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Afforestation Effects on Soil Carbon Storage in the United States: A Synthesis
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An analysis of forest land use, forest land cover and change at policy-relevant scales
journal, December 2013


Changes in carbon storage and fluxes in a chronosequence of ponderosa pine
journal, April 2003


Quantifying the biophysical climate change mitigation potential of Canada's forest sector
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International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN) Database v3-1
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Response of Sierra Nevada forests to projected climate-wildfire interactions
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Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes
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Forest management scenarios in a changing climate: trade-offs between carbon, timber, and old forest
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  • Ecological Applications, Vol. 27, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/eap.1460

The legacy of harvest and fire on ecosystem carbon storage in a north temperate forest
journal, September 2007


Ecological and socioeconomic effects of China's policies for ecosystem services
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Effects of biotic disturbances on forest carbon cycling in the United States and Canada
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Stabilization of organic matter in temperate soils: mechanisms and their relevance under different soil conditions - a review
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Impacts of disturbance history on forest carbon stocks and fluxes: Merging satellite disturbance mapping with forest inventory data in a carbon cycle model framework
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Storage and stability of organic carbon in soils as related to depth, occlusion within aggregates, and attachment to minerals
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A Tale of Two Forest Carbon Assessments in the Eastern United States: Forest Use Versus Cover as a Metric of Change
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Scaling impacts on environmental controls and spatial heterogeneity of soil organic carbon stocks
journal, January 2015


From sink to source: Regional variation in U.S. forest carbon futures
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  • DOI: 10.1029/2011JG001930

Net primary production and net ecosystem production of a boreal black spruce wildfire chronosequence
journal, April 2004


Forest restoration following surface mining disturbance: challenges and solutions
journal, August 2015


Factors affecting the molecular structure and mean residence time of occluded organics in a lithosequence of soils under ponderosa pine
journal, October 2014


Reforestation can sequester two petagrams of carbon in US topsoils in a century
journal, February 2018

  • Nave, Lucas E.; Domke, Grant M.; Hofmeister, Kathryn L.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1719685115

Future forest aboveground carbon dynamics in the central United States: the importance of forest demographic processes
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Long-Term Impacts of Agriculture on soil Carbon and Nitrogen in new England Forests
journal, August 2000


Carbon Storage on Landscapes with Stand-replacing Fires
journal, January 2006


Mountain pine beetle and forest carbon feedback to climate change
journal, April 2008

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Modelling carbon stocks and fluxes in the wood product sector: a comparative review
journal, March 2016

  • Brunet-Navarro, Pau; Jochheim, Hubert; Muys, Bart
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Predicting soil bulk density for incomplete databases
journal, January 2014


Rapid accumulation and turnover of soil carbon in a re-establishing forest
journal, July 1999

  • Richter, Daniel D.; Markewitz, Daniel; Trumbore, Susan E.
  • Nature, Vol. 400, Issue 6739
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Implications of land-use change on forest carbon stocks in the eastern United States
journal, February 2017

  • Puhlick, Joshua; Woodall, Christopher; Weiskittel, Aaron
  • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 12, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa597f

Complex forest dynamics indicate potential for slowing carbon accumulation in the southeastern United States
journal, January 2015

  • Coulston, John W.; Wear, David N.; Vose, James M.
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/srep08002

Development of a 2001 National Land-Cover Database for the United States
journal, July 2004

  • Homer, Collin; Huang, Chengquan; Yang, Limin
  • Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, Vol. 70, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.14358/PERS.70.7.829

The Influence of Fire on the Radiocarbon Signature and Character of Soil Organic Matter in the Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon, USA
journal, August 2013


Geologic controls of soil carbon cycling and microbial dynamics in temperate conifer forests
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Long-Term Impacts of Agriculture on soil Carbon and Nitrogen in new England Forests
    journal, August 2000


    Modelling carbon stocks and fluxes in the wood product sector: a comparative review
    journal, March 2016

    • Brunet-Navarro, Pau; Jochheim, Hubert; Muys, Bart
    • Global Change Biology, Vol. 22, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13235

    Factors affecting the molecular structure and mean residence time of occluded organics in a lithosequence of soils under ponderosa pine
    journal, October 2014


    Scaling impacts on environmental controls and spatial heterogeneity of soil organic carbon stocks
    journal, January 2015


    A Tale of Two Forest Carbon Assessments in the Eastern United States: Forest Use Versus Cover as a Metric of Change
    journal, July 2016


    The legacy of harvest and fire on ecosystem carbon storage in a north temperate forest
    journal, September 2007


    Geologic controls of soil carbon cycling and microbial dynamics in temperate conifer forests
    journal, September 2009


    From sink to source: Regional variation in U.S. forest carbon futures
    journal, November 2015

    • Wear, David N.; Coulston, John W.
    • Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/srep16518

    Climate Change and Bark Beetles of the Western United States and Canada: Direct and Indirect Effects
    journal, September 2010

    • Bentz, Barbara J.; Régnière, Jacques; Fettig, Christopher J.
    • BioScience, Vol. 60, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1525/bio.2010.60.8.6

    Soil carbon stocks and land use change: a meta analysis
    journal, April 2002


    Considerations for restoring temperate forests of tomorrow: forest restoration, assisted migration, and bioengineering
    journal, August 2015


    Future forest aboveground carbon dynamics in the central United States: the importance of forest demographic processes
    journal, February 2017

    • Jin, Wenchi; He, Hong S.; Thompson, Frank R.
    • Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/srep41821

    Storage and stability of organic carbon in soils as related to depth, occlusion within aggregates, and attachment to minerals
    journal, January 2013


    Complex forest dynamics indicate potential for slowing carbon accumulation in the southeastern United States
    journal, January 2015

    • Coulston, John W.; Wear, David N.; Vose, James M.
    • Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/srep08002

    Mountain pine beetle and forest carbon feedback to climate change
    journal, April 2008

    • Kurz, W. A.; Dymond, C. C.; Stinson, G.
    • Nature, Vol. 452, Issue 7190
    • DOI: 10.1038/nature06777

    Rapid accumulation and turnover of soil carbon in a re-establishing forest
    journal, July 1999

    • Richter, Daniel D.; Markewitz, Daniel; Trumbore, Susan E.
    • Nature, Vol. 400, Issue 6739
    • DOI: 10.1038/21867

    Attributing carbon changes in conterminous U.S. forests to disturbance and non-disturbance factors from 1901 to 2010: ATTRIBUTING CARBON CHANGES OF U.S. FORESTS
    journal, June 2012

    • Zhang, Fangmin; Chen, Jing M.; Pan, Yude
    • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 117, Issue G2
    • DOI: 10.1029/2011jg001930

    Afforestation Effects on Soil Carbon Storage in the United States: A Synthesis
    journal, January 2013

    • Nave, L. E.; Swanston, C. W.; Mishra, U.
    • Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 77, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2012.0236

    Response of Sierra Nevada forests to projected climate-wildfire interactions
    journal, November 2016

    • Liang, Shuang; Hurteau, Matthew D.; Westerling, Anthony LeRoy
    • Global Change Biology, Vol. 23, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13544

    Aboveground net primary production decline with stand age: potential causes
    journal, September 1996


    Impacts of disturbance history on forest carbon stocks and fluxes: Merging satellite disturbance mapping with forest inventory data in a carbon cycle model framework
    journal, August 2014

    • Williams, Christopher A.; Collatz, G. James; Masek, Jeffrey
    • Remote Sensing of Environment, Vol. 151
    • DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2013.10.034

    Carbon accumulation in agricultural soils after afforestation: a meta-analysis: SOC ACCUMULATION FOLLOWING AFFORESTATION
    journal, January 2010


    International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN) Database v3-1
    dataset, January 2016

    • Nave, Luke; Johnson, Kris; Van Ingen, Catharine
    • International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN);
    • DOI: 10.17040/iscn/1305039

    Stabilization of organic matter in temperate soils: mechanisms and their relevance under different soil conditions - a review
    journal, August 2006


    Carbon Storage on Landscapes with Stand-replacing Fires
    journal, January 2006


    Predicting soil bulk density for incomplete databases
    journal, January 2014


    Forest Carbon Management in the United States
    journal, January 2006

    • Birdsey, Richard; Pregitzer, Kurt; Lucier, Alan
    • Journal of Environment Quality, Vol. 35, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.2134/jeq2005.0162

    Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes
    journal, April 2017

    • Schoennagel, Tania; Balch, Jennifer K.; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah
    • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, Issue 18
    • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1617464114

    The Influence of Fire on the Radiocarbon Signature and Character of Soil Organic Matter in the Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon, USA
    journal, August 2013


    Implications of land-use change on forest carbon stocks in the eastern United States
    journal, February 2017

    • Puhlick, Joshua; Woodall, Christopher; Weiskittel, Aaron
    • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 12, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa597f

    Net primary production and net ecosystem production of a boreal black spruce wildfire chronosequence
    journal, April 2004


    Surficial gains and subsoil losses of soil carbon and nitrogen during secondary forest development
    journal, September 2014

    • Mobley, Megan L.; Lajtha, Kate; Kramer, Marc G.
    • Global Change Biology, Vol. 21, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12715

    Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential
    journal, March 2000


    Contributions of Land-Use History to Carbon Accumulation in U.S. Forests
    journal, November 2000


    Ecological and socioeconomic effects of China's policies for ecosystem services
    journal, July 2008

    • Liu, J.; Li, S.; Ouyang, Z.
    • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, Issue 28
    • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706436105

    Forest restoration following surface mining disturbance: challenges and solutions
    journal, August 2015


    Forest management scenarios in a changing climate: trade-offs between carbon, timber, and old forest
    journal, February 2017

    • Creutzburg, Megan K.; Scheller, Robert M.; Lucash, Melissa S.
    • Ecological Applications, Vol. 27, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.1002/eap.1460

    Carbon consequences of forest disturbance and recovery across the conterminous United States: FOREST DISTURBANCE AND CARBON DYNAMICS
    journal, January 2012

    • Williams, Christopher A.; Collatz, G. James; Masek, Jeffrey
    • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 26, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1029/2010gb003947

    Effects of biotic disturbances on forest carbon cycling in the United States and Canada
    journal, October 2011


    Development of a 2001 National Land-Cover Database for the United States
    journal, July 2004

    • Homer, Collin; Huang, Chengquan; Yang, Limin
    • Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, Vol. 70, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.14358/pers.70.7.829

    An analysis of forest land use, forest land cover and change at policy-relevant scales
    journal, December 2013


    Changes in carbon storage and fluxes in a chronosequence of ponderosa pine
    journal, April 2003


    Quantifying the biophysical climate change mitigation potential of Canada's forest sector
    journal, January 2014


    Monitoring Network Confirms Land Use Change is a Substantial Component of the Forest Carbon Sink in the eastern United States
    journal, December 2015

    • Woodall, C. W.; Walters, B. F.; Coulston, J. W.
    • Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/srep17028

    Reforestation can sequester two petagrams of carbon in US topsoils in a century
    journal, February 2018

    • Nave, Lucas E.; Domke, Grant M.; Hofmeister, Kathryn L.
    • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1719685115

    Individual tree and stand-level carbon and nutrient contents across one rotation of loblolly pine plantations on a reclaimed surface mine
    journal, December 2018


    Monitoring forest structure to guide adaptive management of forest restoration: a review of remote sensing approaches
    journal, October 2019