Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

3 - Forestry Carbon Sequestration



There is widespread belief now that forests can be used to reduce the costs of slowing climate change. While the role of forests in the global carbon cycle has long been acknowledged, recent discussions within the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), as well as efforts to write climate change legislation in the USA, have emphasized the role forests might play. The most recent policy efforts have focused on near-term actions to reduce deforestation in tropical countries.

The rationale for considering forests at all in the policy mix stems partly from the physical components of the issue. The world's forest estate is exceedingly large: It contains roughly 3.9 billion ha of forestland and 1 trillion tons of CO2 (UN Food and Agricultural Organization 2006). Current estimates indicate that roughly 11 million ha each year are lost in tropical regions due to deforestation and conversion of land to agriculture (Houghton 1999, 2003). These losses cause emissions of about 3.6–4.5 billion tons of CO2, so that deforestation accounts for around 17% of global carbon emissions. Countries like Indonesia and Brazil are near the top of total emissions when estimated by country if deforestation is included in carbon emission calculations. Efforts to slow these emissions, of course, could have enormous benefits for society.

Antinori, C. and Sathaye, J., 2007: Assessing Transaction Costs of Project-Based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Report LBNL-57315
Antle, J.M., Capalbo, S.M., Mooney, S., Elliot, E.T., and Paustian, K.H., 2003: Spatial heterogeneity, contract design, and the efficiency of carbon sequestration policies for agriculture, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 46, 231–50
Blaser, J. and Robledo, C., 2008: Initial analysis on the mitigation potential in the forestry sector, Update of a background paper prepared for the UNFCCC Secretariat in August 2007, presented to the International Expert Meeting on Addressing Climate Change through Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests, Yokohama, Japan, April 30–May 2
Cacho, O. and Lipper, L., 2007: Abatement and transaction costs of carbon-sink projects involving smallholders, FEEM Working Paper 27.2007, Fundacion Eni Enrico Mattei, Milan
Eliasch, J., 2008: Climate Change: Financing Global Forests, Office of Climate Change, UK Government, London
Grieg-Gran, M., 2008: The cost of avoiding deforestation, Update of the Report prepared for The Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, Working Paper, International Institute for Environment and Development, Cambridge
Hoehn, H.F. and Solberg, B., 1994: Potential and economic efficiency of carbon sequestration in forest biomass through silvicultural management, Forest Science 40, 429–51
Houghton, R.A., 1999: The annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use 1850–1990, Tellus, 51B, 298–313
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
,Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change – Report of Working Group III, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Kurz, W.A. and Apps, M.J., 1999: A 70-year retrospective analysis of carbon fluxes in the Canadian forest sector, Ecological Applications 9(2), 526–47
Murray, B., Lubowski, R., and Sohngen, B., 2009: Including international forest carbon incentives in a United States climate policy: understanding the economics, Working Paper, The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, Durham, NC
Murray, B.C., Sohngen, B., and Ross, M.T., 2007: Economic consequences of consideration of permanence, leakage and additionality for soil carbon sequestration projects, Climatic Change, 80(1–2), 127–43
Nordhaus, W., 2009: A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT
Nordhaus, W. and Boyer, J., 2000: Warming the World: Economic Models of Global Warming, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
Richards, K. and Stokes, C., 2004: A review of forest carbon sequestration cost studies: a dozen years of research, Climatic Change 63, 1–48
Searchinger, T., Heimlich, R., Dong, R.A. Houghton, F., Elobeid, A., Fabiosa, J., Tokgoz, S., Hayes, D., and Yu, T-H, 2008: Use of US croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change, Science 319, 1238–40
Sedjo, R.A., 1989: Forests: a tool to moderate global warming?, Environment 31(1), 14–20
Sedjo, R.A., Wisniewski, J., Sample, A.V., and Kinsman, J.D., 1995: The economics of managing carbon via forestry: assessment of existing studies, Environmental and Resource Economics 6, 139–65
Smith, W.B., Miles, P.D., Vissage, J.S., and Pugh, S.A., 2003: Forest resources of the United States, 2002, General Technical ReportNC-241, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station, St Paul, MN
Sohngen, B., 2008: Paying for avoided deforestation – should we do it?, Choices 23, (1)–1/theme/2008–1-08.htm
Sohngen, B., Andrasko, K., Gytarsky, M., Korovin, G., Laestadius, L., Murray, B., Utkin, A., and Zamolodchikov, D., 2005: Stocks and Flows: Carbon Inventory and Mitigation Potential of the Russian Forest and Land Base, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC
Sohngen, B., Golub, A., and Hertel, T., 2009: The role of forestry in carbon sequestration in general equilibrium models, chapter 11 in Hertel, T., Rose, S., and Tol, R.. (eds.), Economic Analysis of Land Use in Global Climate Change Policy, Routledge, New York
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, 829–39
Sohngen, B. and Brown, S., 2006: The influence of conversion of forest types on carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services in the South Central United States, Ecological Economics 57, 698–708
Sohngen, B. and Brown, S., 2008: Extending timber rotations: carbon and cost implications, Climate Policy 8, 435–51
Sohngen, B. and Sedjo, R., 2006: Carbon sequestration in global forests under different carbon price regimes, Energy Journal 27, 109–26
Sun, B. and Sohngen, B., 2009: Set-asides for carbon sequestration: implications for permanence and leakage, Climatic Change, published online, July 23, DOI: 10.1007/s10584–009-9628–9
Tavoni, M., Sohngen, B., and Bosetti, V., 2007: Forestry and the carbon market response to stabilize climate, Energy Policy 35(11), 5346–53
,UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 2006: Global forest resources assessment 2005: progress towards sustainable forest management, FAO Forestry Paper 147, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome,
Kooten, G., Cornelis, Alison J. Eagle, Manley, James, and Smolak, Tara, 2004: How costly are carbon offsets? A meta-analysis of carbon forest sinks, Environmental Science & Policy 7, 239–51
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, 360–74
Angelsen, A., Brown, S., Loisel, C., Peskett, L., Streck, C., and Zarin, D., 2009: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD): an options assessment report, Report prepared for the government of Norway,
Benitez, P., McCallum, I., Obersteiner, M., and Yamagata, Y., 2004: Global supply for carbon sequestration: identifying least-cost afforestation sites under country risk consideration, Interim Report IR-04–022, International Institute for Applied System Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
Bosetti, V., Lubowski, R., Golub, A., and Markandya, A., 2009: Linking reduced deforestation and a global carbon market: impacts on costs, financial flows, and technological innovation, FEEM Nota di Lavoro 56.2009,–9AE6-E493471DDC89/2930/5609.pdf
Böttcher, H., Aoki, K., Cara, S., Gusti, M., Havlik, P., Kindermann, G., Schneider, U.A., and Obersteiner, M., 2008: GHG mitigation potentials and costs from land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) in Annex 1 countries, GAINS Methodology Report; International Institute for Applied System Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
Busch, J., Strassburg, B., Cattaneo, A., Lubowski, R., Bolz, F., Ashton, R., Bruner, A., and Rice, D., 2009: Open source impacts of REDD incentives spreadsheet (OSIRIS v2.4), collaborative modeling initiative on REDD economics,
Dinan, T. and Orszag, P., 2008: Policy Options for Reducing CO2 Emissions, Congressional Budget Office, US Congress, Washington, DC, February,
Dixit, A.K. and Pindyck, R.S., 1994: Investment under Uncertainty (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
Eliasch, J., 2008: Climate Change: Financing Global Forests, Office of Climate Change, London, UK
,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2000: The global outlook for future wood supply from forest plantations, Working Paper GFPOS/WP/03, FAO, Rome
Foley, J.A., Asner, G.P., Costa, M. Heil, Coe, M.T., DeFries, R., Gibbs, H.K., Howard, E.A., Olson, S., Patz, J., Ramankutty, N., and Snyder, P., 2007: Amazonia revealed: forest degradation and loss of ecosystem goods and services in the Amazon Basin, Frontiers in Ecology 5, 25–32
Golub, A., Fuss, S., Szolgayova, J., and Obersteiner, M., 2009: Effects of low-cost offsets on energy investment: new perspectives on REDD, FEEM Nota di Lavoro 17.2009, or–4135-8642–5D959AE95C25/2832/1709.pdf
Gusti, M., Havlik, P., and Obersteiner, M., 2008: Technical description of the IIASA model cluster, The Eliasch Review, Office of Climate Change, London, UK,
Gusti, M., Havlik, P., and Obersteiner, M., 2009: How much additional carbon can be stored in forests if economic measures are used and how much could it cost?, Research Reports of the National University of Bioresources and Nature Management of Ukraine,
Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, , Kharecha, P., Beerling, D., Berner, R., Masson-Delmotte, V., Pagani, M., Raymo, M., Royer, D.L., and Zachos, J.C., 2008: Target atmospheric CO2: where should humanity aim?, Open Atmospheric Science Journal 2, 217–31
Kindermann, G., Obersteiner, M., Sohngen, B., Sathaye, J., Andrasko, K., Rametsteiner, E., Schlamadinger, B., Wunder, S., and Beach, R., 2008: Global cost estimates of reducing carbon emissions through avoided deforestation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(30), 10302–7
Lubowski, R., Plantinga, A., and Stavins, R., 2006: Land-use change and carbon sinks: econometric estimation of the carbon sequestration supply function, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 51, 135–52
Murray, B., 2008: Leakage from an avoided deforestation compensation policy: concepts, empirical evidence, and corrective policy options, Working Paper 08–02, Nicholas Institute for the Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University,
Murray, B., Lubowski, R., and Sohngen, B., 2009: Including international forest carbon incentives in a United States climate policy: understanding the economics, Working Paper, Nicholas Institute for the Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, Durham, NC
Murray, B.C., Sohngen, B.L., Sommer, A.J., Depro, B.M., Jones, K.M., McCarl, B.A., Gillig, D., DeAngelo, B., and Andrasko, K., 2005: EPA-R-05–006, Greenhouse gas mitigation potential in US forestry and agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Atmospheric Programs, Washington, DC
Naidoo, R. and Iwamura, T., 2007: Global-scale mapping of economic benefits from agricultural lands: implications for conservation priorities,” Biological Conservation 140, 40–9
Nordhaus, W., A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT
Pagiola, S. and Bosquet, B., 2009: Estimating the costs of REDD at the country level, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility,–09-09.pdf
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, 812–24
Ramankutty, N., Foley, J.A., Norman, J., and McSweeney, K., 2002: The global distribution of cultivable lands: current patterns and sensitivity to possible climate change, Global Ecology & Biogeography 11, 377–92
Sohngen, B. and Mendelsohn, R., 2003: An optimal control model of forest carbon sequestration, American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 85(2), 448–57
Sohngen, B. and Mendelsohn, R., 2007: A sensitivity analysis of carbon sequestration, chapter 19 in Schlesinger, M., Kheshgi, H.S., Smith, J., Chesnaye, F.C., Reilly, J.M., Wilson, T., and Kolstad, C. (eds.), Human-Induced Climate Change: An Interdisciplinary Assessment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Stavins, R., 1999: The costs of carbon sequestration: a revealed preference approach, American Economic Review 89, 994–1009
Tavoni, M., Sohngen, B., and Bosetti, V., 2007: Forestry and the carbon market response to stabilize climate, Energy Policy 35, 5346–53
Velthuizen, al., 2007: Mapping biophysical factors that influence agricultural production and rural vulnerability, Environment and Natural Resources Series XI, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Rome
Wise, al., 2009: Implications of Limiting CO2 concentrations for land use and energy, Science 324, 1183–6