Structure Condition Services Stressors
Carbon storage is the amount of carbon stored by trees in forests. Through photosynthesis, trees convert atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into sugars and wood, sequestering large amounts of carbon in their roots, trunks, and branches. Carbon is stored not only in live trees, but in soils, downed logs, and standing dead trees. While trees release some CO2 through the natural processes of respiration and decay, they store far more carbon then they release. Here we use Forest Inventory and Analysis Phase 2 plot data1 to assess the total, annual forest carbon storage, expressed in metric tonnes (equivalent to 1,000 Kg). The role of forests in carbon sequestration is critically important in moderating the effect of greenhouse gas emissions. A high score means that carbon storage is staying high over time.
1 USDA Forest Service. Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. Available at: https://www.fia.fs.fed.us/library/field-guides-methods-proc/docs/2017/core_ver7-2_10_2017_final.pdf
The score is calculated using a target value and the historical range of the the entire long-term dataset. The higher the score, the closer this year's value is to the target.
Once the score is computed for each year, the trend in scores over time is calculated. If the trend is significantly positive or negative, the long-term trend is marked as increasing or decreasing respectively.
Distance between minimum and maximum (scaled 1-5)
Data maximum + 10% of range
|Directionality of scores||
Higher values in the data are better.
|Minimum value used in scoring||
Data minimum - 10% of range
|Maximum value used in scoring||
Data maximum + 10% of range
Data on carbon storage were extracted from the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis Program EVALIDator1. We used an FIA-established query (“0103 Forest carbon total: all 5 pools, in metric tonnes, on forest land”) accessed by the FIA EVALIDator1. This query computed the total carbon storage (in MgT) on FIA plots across all carbon pools. The first available year of data was 1997. The data target was set at the maximum value in the dataset plus 10% of the range. The annual score was computed as the difference between the lower scoring bounds (either the minimum value in the data minus 10% of range or 0, whichever was greater) and the target, scaled between 1 and 5.
Timber harvested from Vermont's forests provide jobs and income to the state, and support the maintenance of forest land.
Aquatic species that live in forested streams provide an assessment of the health of the surrounding forest.
The ability of forests to support big game species for hunting indicates healthy forest habitat.
The amount of carbon stored by forests helps offset rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
Maple syrup production is an iconic staple of Vermont's landscape and is reliant on the continued health of maple trees.
The number of people using Vermont's forests for camping and hiking provides a measure of the value of our forests for recreational uses.
The number and diversity of bird species that live and use forested habitats provides a sense of the quality of Vermont's forestlands for a variety of species.