Cutting Trees to Promote Sustainability

The Nov. 28th's NYTimes reported on the debate over how best manage forests as carbon sinks to combat climate change. The US Forest Service is thinning small growth trees and plants in the West in order to prevent forest fires; emitting some carbon in the short term in order to maintain the forest as a carbon sink for the long term. Some counter that is this not necessarily useful in some parts- that the fires have been uncommon or that such a small percentage of carbon is emitted during a fire anyhow. Another view advocates examining forests on a case-by-case basis- critically weighing the carbon released in a potential fire vs. the carbon cost of attempting to prevent that fire. The article points out that the most land in the US is privately owned (~60% according to theForest Landowners Association), placing the majority of forest activities as carbon sinks in private hands. Do these individuals know how or have plans to treat their forests as carbon sinks?

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