2023 journal article

Climate-smart forestry through innovative wood products and commercial afforestation and reforestation on marginal land

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

MeSH headings : Wood / metabolism; Forestry; Greenhouse Gases; Soil; Carbon / metabolism; Georgia
Source: ORCID
Added: May 31, 2023

Afforestation and reforestation (AR) on marginal land are nature-based solutions to climate change. There is a gap in understanding the climate mitigation potential of protection and commercial AR with different combinations of forest plantation management and wood utilization pathways. Here, we fill the gap using a dynamic, multiscale life cycle assessment to estimate one-century greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation delivered by (both traditional and innovative) commercial and protection AR with different planting density and thinning regimes on marginal land in the southeastern United States. We found that innovative commercial AR generally mitigates more GHGs across 100 y (3.73 to 4.15 Giga tonnes of CO 2 equivalent (Gt CO 2 e)) through cross-laminated timber (CLT) and biochar than protection AR (3.35 to 3.69 Gt CO 2 e) and commercial AR with traditional lumber production (3.17 to 3.51 Gt CO 2 e), especially in moderately cooler and dryer regions in this study with higher forest carbon yield, soil clay content, and CLT substitution. In a shorter timeframe (≤50 y), protection AR is likely to deliver higher GHG mitigation. On average, for the same wood product, low-density plantations without thinning and high-density plantations with thinning mitigate more life cycle GHGs and result in higher carbon stock than that of low-density with thinning plantations. Commercial AR increases the carbon stock of standing plantations, wood products, and biochar, but the increases have uneven spatial distributions. Georgia (0.38 Gt C), Alabama (0.28 Gt C), and North Carolina (0.13 Gt C) have the largest carbon stock increases that can be prioritized for innovative commercial AR projects on marginal land.