Where Is the Carbon? Carbon Sequestration Potential from Private Forestland in the Southern United States

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Uncertainty surrounding the future supply of timber in the southern United States prompted the question, “Where is all the wood?” (Cubbage et al. 1995). We ask a similar question about the potential of southern forests to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sequestering carbon. Because significant carbon sequestration potential occurs on individual nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) lands owned by individuals, the accuracy of projections depends on how NIPF landowners respond to prices and their ability and willingness to participate in carbon offset programs. Striving to produce a more realistic assessment of the potential for southern forests to sequester carbon in response to future markets or policies, we use National Woodland Owner Survey data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program to link landowner demographic and behavioral data with forest conditions. We also examine barriers to NIPF participation in carbon offset programs and offer recommendations for overcoming those barriers.

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