Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 8
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2010

19 - A sensitivity analysis of forest carbon sequestration

from Part III - Mitigation of greenhouse gases



This paper examines the sensitivity of estimates of both the baseline of carbon in forests and the efficacy of carbon sequestration programs to the supply of land for forests, timber demand, and technology change in forestry. We explore how changes in these parameters affect estimates of the amount of carbon that forests will store in the absence of carbon sequestration programs. We also explore how changes in these parameters will alter how much an efficient carbon sequestration program will store. Although we have previously estimated expected outcomes for the baseline (Sohngen and Sedjo, 2000) and for efficient carbon sequestration programs (Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 2003), the model used for this analysis has been updated from these earlier versions, and this sensitivity analysis is new. Given that the parameters we are exploring in this analysis are highly uncertain, especially at the global level, it is important to see how these adjustments affect the conclusions of earlier studies.

In this study, we follow the definition of an efficient carbon sequestration program established in an earlier paper (Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 2003). We assume that carbon sequestration programs must be embedded in the overall effort to control greenhouse gases. The marginal cost of sequestering carbon in forests should be equated to the marginal cost of sequestering carbon in other resources such as agriculture and the marginal cost of preventing carbon emissions in the energy sector at each moment in time.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Adams, D. M., Alig, R. J., McCarl, B. A., Callaway, J. M. and Winnett, S. M. (1999). Minimum cost strategies for sequestering carbon in forests. Land Economics 75, 360–374.
Dixon, R. K., Brown, S., Houghton, R. al. (1994). Carbon pools and flux of global forest ecosystems. Science 263, 185–190.
Fang, J., Chen, A., Peng, C., Zhao, S. and Ci., L. (2001). Changes in forest biomass carbon storage in China between 1949 and 1998. Science 292, 2320–2322.
FAO (2003). State of the World's Forests 2003. Rome: United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
FAOSTATS (2003). FAOSTATS Database of Global Forest Production. Rome: United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
Fischer, G., Velthuizen, H., Shah, M. and Nachtergaele, F. (2002). Global Agro-ecological Assessment for Agriculture in the 21st Century: Methodology and Results. Research Report RR-02–02. Vienna: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Hardie, I. W. and Parks, P. J. (1997). Land use with heterogeneous land quality: An application of an area base model. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 79, 299–310.
Haynes, R. (2003). An Analysis of the Timber Situation in the United States: 1952–2050. General Technical Report, PNW-GTR-560. Portland, Oregon: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Houghton, R. A. (2003). Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850–2000. Tellus 55B, 378–90.
Ianchovichina, E., Darwin, R. and Shoemaker, R. (2001). Resource use and technological progress in agriculture: a dynamic general equilibrium analysis. Ecological Economics 38 (2), 275–291.
IPCC (2000). Emissions Scenarios: A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. Nakicenovic, N. and Swart, R.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
IPCC (2001). Climate Change 2001: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change, ed. Metz, B., Davidson, O., Swart, R. and Pan, J.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McCarl, B. A. and Schneider, U. A. (2001). Greenhouse gas mitigation in United States agriculture and forestry. Science 294, 2481–2482.
Murray, B. C., McCarl, B. A. and Lee, H. (2004). Estimating leakage from forest carbon sequestration programs. Land Economics 80 (1), 109–124.
Nabuurs, G. J., Päivinen, R. and Schelhaas, M. J. (2003). Development of European Forests until 2050. Research Report 15. Helsinki: European Forestry Institute.
Nordhaus, W. and Boyer, J. (2000). Warming the World: Economic Models of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Plantinga, A. J., Mauldin, T. and Miller, D. J. (1999). An econometric analysis of the costs of sequestering carbon in forests. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 81, 812–824.
Richards, K. R. and Stokes, C. (2004). A review of forest carbon sequestration cost studies: a dozen years of research. Climatic Change 63, 1–48.
Sathaye, J., Makundi, W., Dale, L. and Chan, P. (2006). GHG mitigation potential, costs and benefits in global forests: a dynamic partial equilibrium approach. Energy Journal 27, 127–163.
Sedjo, R. (1999). Land use change and innovation in US forestry. In Productivity in Natural Resource Industries, ed. Simpson, R. D.. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, pp. 141–174.
Sedjo, R. (2004a). The potential economic contribution of biotechnology and forest plantations in global wood supply and forest conservation. In The Bioengineered Forest: Challenges for Science and Society, ed. Strauss, S. H. and Bradshaw, H. D.. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
Sedjo, R. (2004b). Transgenic Trees: Implementation and Outcomes of the Plant Protection Act. Discussion Paper DP-04–10. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
Smith, J. E., Heath, L. S. and Jenkins, J. C. (2003). Forest Volume-to-biomass Models and Estimates of Mass for Live and Standing Dead Trees of United States Forests. General Technical Report, NE-298. Radnor, PA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station.
Sohngen, B. and Brown, S. (2004). Measuring leakage from carbon projects in open economies: a stop timber harvesting project as a case study. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34, 829–839.
Sohngen, B. and Mendelsohn, R. (2003). An optimal control model of forest carbon sequestration. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 85(2), 448–457.
Sohngen, B. and Sedjo, R. (2000). Potential carbon flux from timber harvests and management in the context of a global timber market. Climatic Change 44, 151–172.
Sohngen, B., Mendelsohn, R. and Sedjo, R. (1999). Forest management, conservation, and global timber markets. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 81(1), 1–13.
Sohngen, B., Mendelsohn, R. and Sedjo, R. (2001). A global model of climate change impacts on timber markets. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 26 (2), 326–343.
Vuuren, D. P., Eickhout, B., Lucas, P. L. and Elzen, M. G. J. (2006). Long-term multi-gas scenarios to stabilise radiative forcing: exploring costs and benefits within an integrated assessment framework. Energy Journal 27, 201–234.
Winjum, J. K., Brown, S. and Schlamadinger, B. (1998). Forest harvests and wood products: sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Forest Science 44, 272–284.