chapter  Chapter 23
10 Pages

The Potential of U.S. Forest Soils to Sequester Carbon

WithLinda S. Heath, John M. Kimble, Richard A. Birdsey, Rattan Lal

The typical managed forest in the conterminous United States is a productive, closed-canopy, temperate deciduous or coniferous forest. Most of the forestland in the United States is in the temperate zone and is occupied by coniferous or deciduous trees that are relatively productive. Tropical and subtropical forests store very little of the soil carbon (C) in the United States because of their small area. However, they offer unique opportunities for scientific study because of their variety and the fact that changes occur more rapidly in tropical forests. Forest management activities have the potential to sequester the most soil C, mostly from fertilization, regeneration, and managing specifically to increase soil C. The potential of soil C storage in forests is great because the inputs into the soil contain compounds such as lignins, which are difficult to decompose, and forests also contain organisms that can optimize forest net primary productivity while maintaining belowground C stocks.