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  • Clearcut Carbon Calculator

    WHEN AN AREA OF FOREST is clearcut, a premature release of carbon to the atmosphere commences. If that area had not been logged, it likely would have continued to sequester carbon for many years—in may cases for centuries. In this era of a declared climate emergency, it's important that the public understand the value of forests' ability to absorb emissions from burning fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions. As the price put on these carbon emissions increases, the monetary value of standing forests as carbon sinks will also increase. Depending on the price of carbon, standing forests may have higher monetary value as sinks than as sources of building material or energy.

    To determine how much carbon is released by logging, we determine how much biomass was in a forest before it was logged. To do that we work backwards from the volume of merchantable wood that was taken from the stand—which is recorded by the ministry of forests' Harvest Billing System. The National Forest Inventory has developed an above-ground biomass calculator that allows us to estimate the weight of carbon in branches, stumps, bark, foliage, non-merchantable trees killed, understory plants, standing dead trees, and course woody debris. We use estimates obtained by scientific studies to determine the weight of carbon in roots and the amount of carbon released from the forest floor after logging, and a US Forest Service manual for estimating the weight of carbon in breakage and rejects.




    • For a detailed explanation of how this project is calculating the carbon releases associated with logging and forest products in BC, see this explainer.

    • To view our area-based calculations, go here.

    • To see our estimates of the amount of carbon attributable to forest product processing facilities such as lumber, pulp and paper mills, see this page.

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