Woodcache PBC

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals From Forest Land, Woodlands, and Urban Trees in the United States, 1990-2018

Grant M. Domke, Brian F. Walters, David J. Nowak, James Smith, Stephen M. Ogle, J.W. Coulston, T.C. Wirth
USDA Forest Service
Peer Reviewed: No
Year Published: 2020

Key Takeaways:

  • Forest land, harvested wood products, and urban trees collectively represent the largest carbon sink in the United States, offsetting more than 11% of national GHG emissions.
  • Roughly 2.7 billion metric tonnes of dead wood are estimated to be present in forests.
  • Forested lands in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are among the few that do not sequester C02 on a net basis.
Greenhouse gas emissions and removals from forest land, woodlands, and urban trees in the United States, 1990-2018
This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Is Forest Fuel Reduction a Sustainable Source of Biomass?


As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United States has been reporting an economy-wide Inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals since the mid-1990s (US EPA 2020). Forest land, harvested wood products (HWPs), and urban trees within the land sector collectively represent the largest net carbon (C) sink in the United States, offsetting more than 11 percent of total GHG emissions annually (US EPA 2020). Estimates of GHG emissions and removals are compiled by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service researchers and are based primarily on National Forest Inventory (NFI) data collected and maintained by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program within the USDA Forest Service. This report—the second in a new series of annual updates—provides an overview of the status and trends of GHG emissions and removals from forest land, woodlands in the grassland category, HWPs, and urban trees in settlements in the United States from 1990 to 2018. The estimates for the United States summarized here are based on the compilation reported in the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry chapter of the US EPA (2020) submission to the UNFCCC. New in this report, most of the national scale estimates are also reported by individual U.S. state (Fig. 1) and are available online for the entire 1990-2018 time series (see appendix).