Government data shows private working forests provide 72% of gross annual sequestration and more than half of our nation’s forest carbon storage
Washington, DC – As policymakers consider options for reaching net zero emissions by 2050, forests will continue to play a vital role by sequestering and storing carbon. A new data visualization released today by the National Alliance of Forest Owners shows key elements of the forest carbon cycle and visualizes complex data sets to allow users to easily compare carbon sequestration, storage, and emissions figures.
The new interactive data visualization – ForestCarbonDataViz.org – was developed by the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) with data analysis performed by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI). The tool visualizes publicly available data from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest & Inventory Analysis (FIA) and RPA Assessment, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. The data visualization shows a comprehensive picture of how U.S. forests and forest products are fighting climate change.
“We know that U.S. forests, and private working forests in particular, are already our most powerful tool for fighting climate change, but now we can see it,” said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of NAFO. “Our intent is to provide a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for forest carbon. Carbon data can be incomprehensible. This new data visualization finally makes complex forest carbon data sets accessible to everyone.”
Private working forests account for nearly 75 percent of gross annual carbon sequestration by U.S. forests – more than the total annual emissions from U.S. passenger vehicles. In addition, private working forests are the largest forest carbon storage pool, accounting for 54% of the total U.S. forest carbon storage pool. The carbon stored in harvested wood products – used in houses, furniture, and in wood infrastructure projects – is more than double the amount of carbon in all U.S. national parks. In total, U.S. forests currently store an equivalent of 85 years’ worth of annual emissions from electricity production.
“Ninety percent of the timber harvested in the U.S. for wood products comes from privately owned working forests. These same acres are also providing three-quarters of the gross annual sequestration and more than half of the long-term carbon storage in all of our forests combined. That’s a stunning realization when you look at it all together. It is a testament to the climate value of modern sustainable forestry in our country,” Tenny said.
Consistently high demand for forest products provides the means for private forest owners to invest in their forests, keep them healthy, and keep them growing so they can continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it long-term. The data clearly show that the continuous cycle of growing, harvesting, and replanting yields enormous carbon benefits.
The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) is a national advocacy organization committed to advancing federal policies that ensure our working forests provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and jobs through sustainable practices and strong markets. NAFO member companies own and sustainably manage more than 46 million acres of private working forests – forests that are managed to provide a steady supply of timber. NAFO’s membership also includes state and national associations representing tens of millions of additional acres. Private working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. Learn more at nafoalliance.org.