A Surprising Source of Carbon Emissions in Oregon

The ecosystems of Oregon’s Coast Range are some of the most adept ecosystems for absorbing carbon in the entire country. The same trees that absorb that carbon can be turned into a major source of emissions in the hands of humans.
May 25, 2018, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Chris W Anderson

Carl Segerstrom reports on a surprising environmental dynamic at work in Oregon, revealed by a recent study authored by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Idaho.

Less than a year after devastating fires ripped through some of the most beautiful areas in the state, a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) finds that logging and wood products are a larger source of carbon emissions in Oregon's forests than fires.

"Figuring out the role of forests and wood in carbon pollution could have major policy implications in Oregon, as Gov. Kate Brown has pledged to meet the emissions goals of the Paris Climate accords," according to Segerstrom.

Not only are fires a smaller source of carbon emissions, but "the wood products industry is the largest sector contributing to carbon pollution in the state," according to the study, as explained by Segerstrom.

"Wood product emissions are the result of fuel burned by logging equipment, the hauling of timber, milling, wood burned during forestry activities, and the ongoing decomposition of trees after they are cut," explains Segerstrom.

The researchers responsible for the study will next expand the concept to a larger swath of the Western United States.

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Published on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in High Country News
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