Storing carbon in standing trees can help offset greenhouse gas emissions but will also affect future timber supply and prices. A recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Forestry Research analyzes the impacts of this particular set of trade-offs. The study, Projected US timber and primary forest product market impacts of climate change mitigation through timber set-asides, is available through the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development database TreeSearch.
Lead author Prakash Nepal, a post-doctoral economist at the Forest Products Laboratory, developed several hypothetical timber set-aside scenarios where a portion of U.S. forest landowners would be paid to forego timber harvests for 100 years. Allowing standing timber to grow and healthy forests to prosper increases the amount of stored carbon and mitigates climate change through the capture of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide.
Reducing the amount of available timberland for harvest, this analysis found, would increase timber prices and affect U.S. domestic timber production, consumption, net export, and timber market welfare. Nepal, along with co-investigators Peter Ince and Ken Skog from FPL and Sun J. Chang of Louisiana State University’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, conclude that policymakers considering future climate change mitigation policies and programs should take into account such carbon-storage/timber-price trade-offs when developing mitigation strategies in the forest sector.