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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

Clean Air and Water

Carbon and Forest Management

[photo:] Sampling carbon stocks in the forest floor.Research Issue

Forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle – forests take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow.  This carbon is "sequestered", or temporarily removed from the atmosphere.   Since forest carbon sequestration can help offset emissions, it is important to learn how much carbon our forests are storing, and how management practices affect the rate of carbon sequestration (storage) in the forests of our region. 

Our Research

Our research has two main goals: to develop estimates of carbon stocks at the stand and forest scale using existing stand inventory data and field sampling, and to develop guidelines to maintain and enhance carbon storage in northern forests.  By sampling field sites with different characteristics, we can begin to understand how different factors such as forest type might affect carbon storage.  In addition, developing a set of carbon estimates at the local scale will provide a range of values for carbon storage that can provide a context for managers to use in assessing the carbon sequestration potential of their forests.  Using existing forest management studies, we can learn how management treatments might affect carbon stocks in different pools such as the forest floor, live trees, or soil.  This information is critical to landowners and managers who want to participate in the emerging market of carbon credits.

Expected Outcomes

  • Estimates of current carbon stocks in northern forests, including carbon stored in the soil, forest floor, and live trees.
  • Comparisons of rates of carbon sequestration in forest stands that have been given different management treatments.
  • Benchmark estimates of forest carbon storage in unmanaged stands.
  • General guidelines to maintain and enhance forest carbon storage.

Research Results

Hoover, Coeli M (Ed.) 2008. Field Measurements for Forest Carbon Monitoring A Landscape-Scale Approach. XVIII, 242 p. 20 illus., Hardcover.

Hoover, C. M. and Rebain, S. A.  2008. The Kane Experimental Forest Carbon Inventory: Carbon Reporting with FVS. In: Havis, Robert N.; Crookston, Nicholas L., comps. 2008. Third Forest Vegetation Simulator Conference; 2007 February 13-15; Fort Collins, CO. Proceedings RMRS-P-54. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 17-22

Hoover, C. M. and Stout, S. L. 2007.  The carbon consequences of thinning techniques: Stand structure makes a difference.  Journal of Forestry 105: 266-270.

Hoover, C. M. 2003.  Soil carbon sequestration and forest management: challenges and opportunities.  in  Kimble, J. M., Heath, L. S., Birdsey, R. A., and Lal, R (Eds.), The Potential of U. S.  Forest Soil to Sequester Carbon and Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Hoover, C. M., Magrini, K. A., and Evans, R. K. 2002.  Soil carbon content and character in an old-growth forest in northwestern Pennsylvania: a case study introducing pyrolysis molecular beam mass spectrometry (py-MBMS).  Environmental Pollution 116:S269-S275.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • Coeli M. Hoover, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Research Ecologist

Research Partners

  • Susan L. Stout, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Research Project Leader
  • Linda S. Heath, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Research Forester
  • William B. Leak, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Research Forester
  • Kimberly A. Magrini, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 

Last Modified: 02/05/2016