Near-term investments in forest management support long-term carbon sequestration capacity in forests of the United States

PNAS Nexus. 2023 Nov 21;2(11):pgad345. doi: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad345. eCollection 2023 Nov.


The forest carbon sink of the United States offsets emissions in other sectors. Recently passed US laws include important climate legislation for wildfire reduction, forest restoration, and forest planting. In this study, we examine how wildfire reduction strategies and planting might alter the forest carbon sink. Our results suggest that wildfire reduction strategies reduce carbon sequestration potential in the near term but provide a longer term benefit. Planting initiatives increase carbon sequestration but at levels that do not offset lost sequestration from wildfire reduction strategies. We conclude that recent legislation may increase near-term carbon emissions due to fuel treatments and reduced wildfire frequency and intensity, and expand long-term US carbon sink strength.

Keywords: climate legislation; climate mitigation; forest carbon projections; natural climate solutions.