22 May 2015
The role of markets is sometimes ignored in forest sustainability analyses. Yet, the peer-reviewed scientific literature clearly demonstrates that in the United States increased demand for wood products, including wood used for bioenergy, results in increases in the amount of forestland, improvements in forest productivity, and investments in sustainable forest management, all of which can offset carbon impacts associated with increased harvesting. As my co-authors and I described in the November issue of the Journal of Forestry, evidence supporting this is based on observations, as well as empirical and modeling studies.
For example, since the early 1900s, demand for wood and paper products increased significantly. Yet during this time, the forested area of the U.S. remained stable. Additionally, U.S. forests have been carbon sinks since the 1950s, absorbing more carbon than they have emitted. Yet, this increase in carbon stocks occurred during a time when the demand for industrial roundwood greatly increased.