Climate Change and the Forests of the Sierra Nevada

April 29, 2021

Just one week after taking office, President Biden demonstrated his administration's committment to making climate change a priority by issuing Executive Order 14008, "Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad." Section 216(b) of the EO directed USDA to submit a report within 90 days to the National Climate Task Force that makes recommendations for an agricultural and forestry climate strategy, informed by stakeholder input. We submitted these comments in response.

August 2020

Climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme autumn wildfire conditions across California. Read the latest research here.

January 20, 2017

Today, the Forest Climate Action Team released the draft of the Forest Carbon Plan. Comments may be emailed to, and must be received by February 23. The Forest Carbon Plan will be finalized in Spring 2017.

There will be a public workshop to take comments on the plan:
February 16, 2017
Coastal Hearing Room
California Environmental Protection Agency Building
1001 I Street, Sacramento

The Workshop will be webcast. The public can access the meeting webcast here: The webcast links will be active starting about 15 minutes prior to the meeting. Learn more here.

April 8, 2016

In 2014, in order to integrate the forestry sector into climate change mitigation in compliance with California's 2006 climate action bill, AB 32, California state governor Jerry Brown assembled a Forest Climate Action Team (FCAT) tasked with the creation of a Forest Carbon Plan by the end of 2016. FCAT is under the jurisdiction of CAL FIRE, Cal-EPA, and the state's Natural Resources Agency.

In March, 2016, the team released a "concept paper" that lays out an "overview of the proposed goals and strategies" under development for the Forest Carbon Plan. Unfortunately, the paper reveals that the agencies involved are still laboring under a false illusion that the even-aged, clearcutting model for forest management is sustainable. Factors related to climate change associated with even-aged management, such as is practiced across the majority of acres of Calfornia's industrial timber lands (e.g., those regulated by Cal Fire and the Natural Resources Agency) include disruption of the natural fire regime (fire intensity and frequency), declining biodiversity, and loss of ecological integrity. The impacts to these factors are not sustainable under the current status quo management paradigm sanctioned by Cal Fire through the Forest Practice Rules. Learn more, and read the SFL comments on the paper here. Additional comments from the conservation community can be downloaded here as well.

June 2014

Learn more about forests role in storing carbon in these three presentations by scientists Beverly Law, Mark Harmon, and Dominick DellaSala, presented last fall at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. These slide presentations provide relevant and current information about the role that forests plan in carbon capture and ecological integrity.

However, climate change, drought, and increased wildfires are likely to reduce carbon stores in the future. Recent modeling suggests that "restoring historic species composition and active fire regimes" can "significantly increase carbon stability in fire-suppressed, mixed-conifer forest" such as California's dry interior Sierra Nevada. These findings need to be incorporated into current and future forest management planning. See Hurteau and North (2010) and Earles, North, and Hurteau (2014). Scroll down for more literature readings.

Beverly Law Presentation - Role of Forest Ecosystems in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation 
Mark Harmon Presentation - Carbon Dynamics of the Forest Sector
Dominick DellaSala, PhD Presentation - Why Forests Need to be Enlisted in Climate Change Action

May 2014

A science research paper published in Avian Conservation & Ecology examined the vulnerability of 168 species of breeding birds in the Sierra Nevada to the effects of climate change. Only one species was determined to be at high vulnerability risk, the White-tailed Ptarmigan, and sixteen species were deemed moderately vulnerable. These were species highly associated with aquatic habitats and/or alpine/subalpine habitats.

Siegel, R.B. et al. 2014. Vulnerability of birds to climate change in California's Sierra Nevada. Avian Conservation & Biology. 9 (1):Article 7.

April 2012

The Forest Service has issued the final Planning Rule for guiding the development, amendment, and revision of land management plans for all units of the National Forest System. Responsible officials will "identify and evaluate information relevant to understanding ecological conditions and trends and to forming a baseline assessment of carbon stocks. Plans will include plan components to maintain or restore ecological integrity, so that ecosystems can resist change, are resilient under changing conditions, and are able to recover from disturbance" (See 36 CFR Section 219.6(b)(3)–(4)).

January, 2011

The Sierra Nevada was identified among the top ten ecosystems needing protection from climate change, in a newly released report from the Endangered Species Coalition, It's Getting Hot Out There: 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World. You can download the report here, or read it at The Sierra Nevada was chosen because it is a hot spot of endangered species and biological diversity, but has the potential to be saved from devastating impacts from climate change if we act now to protect and strengthen the resiliency of the region's threatened ecosystems.

December 17, 2010

As 2010 came to a close, the State Air Resources Board, under Chairperson Mary Nichols, chose to adopt regulations under AB 32 for the forestry sector that create an incentive to continue and increase business as usual -- in other words, to reward the practice of converting ecologically significant forest into single species, industrial tree farms. In spite of the objections brought by a broad consensus group of natural resource professionals and conservationists, the ARB went along with the CDF/Calfire/industry myth captured best in the words of Chairperson Nichols herself: "...[California] already has the strictest timber standards in the nation." This subtext of this oft-repeated myth is that the existing regulations that comprise business as usual in the forestry sector in California provide sufficient protection for wildlife habitat and biological diversity.

This mythology is pervasive and is repeated in discussions from coast to coast. In reality, California's Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) do contain some exemplary language, but it is only rhetorical at best, because the FPR's fail to protect California's unique wildlife and habitats from inexorable degradation and loss of habitat. The only outcome possible under this trend is entrainment towards extinction for some forest-dependent species. Already, many species of plants and animals have disappeared from hundreds of thousand of acres of clearcuts in the Sierra Nevada.

Under the rules, companies can clearcut and replant, and still get credit for the clearcut acres as "offsets." Since forests require some 80 to 100 years to recoup lost carbon from clearcutting, the regulations will do nothing to ameliorate or offset the emissions of polluters.

The new regulations also provide new incentives to timber owners to clear and replant marginal forest lands, such as those containing non-commercial - but ecologically significant - forests. These may include those with unique soil types such as serpentine, or supporting ancient chaparral and other rare forest types and which do not normally support high quality conifer crops.

Critics of the new regulations include former Senator Byron Sher, the author of all of the foundation climate change legislation in California which preceded AB 32, and the first to recognize the important role of California's forests in storing carbon. According to Sher, the new protocol violates the most basic principles of forest conservation:

“The forest companies are interested in being able to harvest their trees, and replant, and then produce a new asset that they can sell,” Sher said. “It undermines the biodiversity of the forest. You end up with tree plantations that are much more vulnerable to fire and disease.”

We want to thank the Center for Biological Diversity for their on-going efforts to protect the forests of California from further incentives to clearcut. While we've not been successful in this endeavor, it is extremely urgent that we continue this battle into 2011. Please contact your state representatives and senators, the new governor of the state, Jerry Brown, and his newly appointed head of the Resources Agency, John Laird, and insist that amendments be made to the regulations as soon as possible, to remove the incentive to clearcut for carbon credits under cap and trade marketing. You can read CBD's press release here. For more information, you can go to the ARB's website here.

May 2010

A science synthesis paper that summarizes the issues and sometimes contradictory concepts surrounding forests and carbon in the U.S. has just been released from the Ecological Society of America's online journal, Issues in Ecology. The paper, A synthesis of the science on forests and carbon for U.S. forests by authors Michael Ryan, Mark Harmon, Richard Birdsey, and others can be downloaded here.

The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences has also issued three new reports, resulting from congressionally requested studies, titled America's Climate Choices. The research found that previous estimations of global warming -including those of the IPPC and the scope of the necessary response to prevent catastrophe - may have been underestimated. Predicting coastal sea level rises of 5 feet by the end of the century, the NAS recommends reducing carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 50-80 percent by the year 2050.

The report concluded that "the main drivers of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are population growth and economic activity, coupled with energy use per capita and per unit of economic output..." and that "without a significant change from business as emissions will continue to rise." The academies found that the majority of GHG emissions are in the form of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

A limited discussion of the issues surrounding the use of forests for biomass fuel are touched upon in the report. The report recommends a carbon pricing system (either cap-and-trade, taxes, or a combination of the two).

Also released this month, the final Senate version of the latest climate bill, the American Power Act (Leiberman and Kerry) aligns closely with many of the findings in the report, including support for more nuclear power plants, and promotes increased domestic drilling and exploration for additional fossil fuel sources.

February 25, 2010

California's Air Resources Board ruled today to withdraw the flawed forest project protocols that were approved last year that would pave the way for forest owners to receive payments for carbon credits for conducting business as usual -- including clearcutting, as permitted by California's infamous Forest Practice Act. The board acted in response to widespread grassroots opposition from Sierran communities and Sierra Forest Legacy partners. Legal arguments were presented by the Center for Biological Diversity (see below, and read the Center's press release here). Chairman Nichols suggested at the hearing that CARB will attempt to adopt the protocols after conducting the necessary CEQA review of the project. The CARB's website with information about this process is located here.

November 10, 2009

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a formal letter with the California Air Resources Board protesting the recently adopted "forestry protocols" that give carbon credits for clearcutting and other destructive forest practices on forest lands. The protocols will be used to approve carbon trading in the forestry sector throughout the U.S., not only in California. Read the press release here, and read more about these issues below. You can also learn more about industrial forestry and the impacts to our native forests here on Legacy's website.

October 27, 2009

Is cap and trade an effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as proposed by Congress in the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the House, and the Boxer-Kerry bill in the Senate? Not according to many experts, including NASA's Jim Hansen, and long-term EPA attorneys Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel. The couple have studied this issue for two decades, and have made a video to help educate people about the many core problems with cap and trade. See the video here, and read more on their website. (Please note that the video is their work and not affiliated with the EPA).

Also recommended viewing: Annie Leonards' video, The Story of Cap and Trade.

Forest Project Protocols for Trading on the Climate Market Adopted by Air Resources Board -- October 1, 2009

This week, Governor Schwarzenegger and the state Air Resources Board announced approval of the "Forestry Protocols" for the Climate Action Registry, or CAR. These protocols set out the rules for climate traders. Under the forestry sector protocols, forest land owners can now trade forest "offsets" in exchange for payments from polluting industries. For example, a coal plant that has exceeded its "cap" of emissions can pay a forest owner for offsets, and continue to pollute. In exchange, at least in theory, the forest owner would agree to keep the trees standing for perpetuity ("offset"), supposedly sequestering or storing carbon that equals that which is emitted by the polluter.

However, as adopted, these protocols don't even require industrial timber owners to keep their trees vertical in order to qualify for payments. A timber owner might also collect offset payments for forest stands they were never going to harvest anyway, so that the sequestration won't be "additional" to what is already occurring naturally. And, a timber owner could collect payments for offsetting harvests at one location, and simply shift harvest plans to another location ("leakage"). Further, there is no clarity as to who will fund the monitoring for ensuring that any of the requirements for the protocols are actually implemented over time. What happens, for example, when wildfire burns up the plantation that was supposed to sequester carbon -- the plantation that replaced a native forest and all of its native species and habitats? Does the timber company have to pay back the payments received? The end result is that the protocols are unlikely to result in reductions in emissions or additional sequestered carbon.

Despite continuous input from the public and objections from leading scientists, the ARB granted the timber industry everything they asked for. In the end, all meaningful restrictions - such as long term conservation easements and restrictions against clearcutting - were pulled from the protocols. The timber industry did not have to lobby very hard for this--CalFire did it for them: in other words, business as usual prevailed against good science and common sense.

Read more about industrial forestry and the impacts to California's forest environments here on Legacy's website.

Oil Pumping Jack"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe" --John Muir.

Climate Change and California's Forests

Carbon dioxide has already increased from a preindustrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 383 ppm in 2007, and is now increasing by about 2 ppm per year. Most of this increase is from the burning of fossil fuels. The second greatest source of human related climate change is related to land use change--primarily deforestation.

According to James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.” (Learn more at Most recently, (April 17, 2009) the EPA released a finding that six greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. The finding, "Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act" will hopefully provide a basis for urgently needed leadership to restrict further emissions of these greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Global climate change is manifesting in the Sierra as we witness the melting of Sierra glaciers, ongoing drought, warming temperatures and increased forest fires. The future impacts upon the forests of the Sierra Nevada are likely to be dire. At the same time, it is known that forest trees--particularly old growth forests in the temperate regions of the world--are able to capture and store carbon dioxide better than any other existing terrestrial ecosystem process.

Yet, scientific investigations to provide definitive answers about what to do to best preserve our forests are plagued by uncertainty and competing interests with their own economic agendas. Attempts to measure the many variables and to predict future trends associated with the altered climate of our planet is made difficult by the simple fact that virtually every variable is connected to another variable whose value is impacted by yet another value. Mathematical constants that can be used to make reliable predictions may not be possible to obtain, since there are continual feedbacks to global climate systems that can change the rate and scale of a process dramatically from day to day. Nevertheless, there are some things we can readily observe and measure.

Climate change is already impacting Sierra Nevada forests and the outlook for their future and its potential consequences is one of impending crisis. In the future impacts could be catastrophic. Recent scientific research has shown that conifer trees in the Sierra Nevada are dying at nearly double the rate as they were two decades ago, stressed by hotter temperatures and lower precipitation. A twenty-two year study of over 21,000 trees in a variety of forests concluded that the average mortality rate increased every year by about 3 percent, leading to a near doubling of the rate by the end of the period. During the same twenty-two year period, the Sierra Nevada warmed by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the amount of snowfall and rain remained the same. Results showed that some of that precipitation evaporated as the climate warmed instead of being absorbed by the trees. Other scientific data have documented that there has been a 25% reduction in spring runoff in the central Sierra and a 10% reduction in runoff in the southern Sierra in recent years.

Separate from the facts of anthropogenic climate change, the paleoecologic record shows that the region has undergone periods of drought many times throughout geologic time. However, the last one hundred years was the fourth wettest century in the last 4,000 years in the Sierra Nevada. This roughly corresponds to the period of modern settlement and dependence upon burning of fossil fuels for energy. As a consequence, we have come to expect a climate pattern that is in fact not the norm at all for California. Adding in the predicted increase in temperature and drought from a warming planet driven by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and it is clear that we have a problem of great proportions.

While climate change will affect all regions of the state, the consequences for the vegetation, wildlife, and water resources will likely be most dramatic in the Sierra Nevada. Scientists project that by the end of the century, average annual temperatures will rise between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures are likely to rise 2 to 2.5 degrees F in the next fifty years. An increase in temperature in this range would substantially reduce the annual snowpack in the Sierra and by 2050 we could see a reduction in snowpack by 25 to 40 percent. When this occurs, the winter snow season will be significantly shorter, with a later average starting date and earlier onset of springtime melting. This change in both the volume of snowmelt and time of year that melting occurs will greatly impact water resources and the Sierra Nevada’s ecological systems. For instance, snowmelt beginning earlier in the year will shift streamflow regimes causing some perennial streams to become ephemeral and unable to support many aquatic species. By 2050 spring and summer stream flow is expected to decrease by as much as 25%. Streams are going to be reshaped by the change in timing and intensity of different flood events and riparian and aquatic ecosystems are going to permanently altered.

Average annual temperature is a key element in determining the presence and absence of vegetative communities found throughout the Sierra Nevada. As temperature continues to rise, plant communities in the alpine and sub-alpine zones will experience a reduction as mixed conifer communities expand into higher elevations. Oak woodlands could also expand into higher elevations, displacing some pine and fir forests. Throughout the Sierra, the higher temperatures and decreased precipitation will lead to an increase in fire frequency, further impacting the presence and abundance of certain plant communities. Shrub communities could be replaced by grasslands. All of these changes will have a profound affect on wildlife species as they attempt to adapt to the changing ecological systems around them.

The American pika--living at the top of the Range of Light and likely to be threatened with extinction due to global warming--is a case in point. As with other species living at the tops of mountain ranges throughout the planet, the pika cannot retreat any higher up to escape the effects of climate change. Read the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity and EarthJustice, and the petition to list the pika as a threatened species, here.

The Sierra Nevada supplies over 40-65 percent of California’s developed water and the impact of climate change on our water supply will be significant. While a quick reaction by some would be to increase our water storage capacity by building new dams, it is important to remember that dams have their own destructive impact on the Sierra’s ecological systems. Dams inhibit fish passage, reduce fish survival, significantly alter riparian areas, and eliminate aquatic habitat and functions. Many fish species, including several salmon species are no longer found in the Sierra due to the current prevalence of dams. An increase in dam construction in the Sierra Nevada would have profound consequences for more aquatic species and wildlife dependent on healthy watersheds and aquatic systems.

Logging Impacts on Climate Change

The impacts of logging operations on climate change are still being analyzed in the scientific community. What is known at this point is summed up by Nick Brown, a forestry scientist at Oxford University: "The more frequently a forest is harvested, the more carbon is emitted." Land preparation, management during the growth period, and, finally, felling and logging operations all put significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The use of energy by tractors, trucks and other machinery in the actual logging operations and the transport of logged trees on each logging project add more CO2 to the atmosphere each and every day.

Some timber industry spokespersons have attempted to make a case for the role of plantation forestry in sequestering greenhouse gas emissions, thereby justifying the continuation of conversion of old growth forests into clearcuts and tree plantations on short (50-80 year) rotations between cutting. The argument is based on the theory that 1) younger trees are growing more rapidly than old growth specimens and must therefore sequester more carbon dioxide; and 2), trees which are harvested for lumber continue to store carbon when they are converted to two-by-fours and other structural components. These arguments have not stood up to scientific scrutiny.

A recent paper published in the journal Nature found that old-growth forests store larger amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than younger plantation trees, and old-growth forests can mitigate climate change for centuries. The research team, from the U.S., Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom, reported that old-growth forests in the Northern Hemisphere alone sequester about 10 percent of net global carbon. Half of the planet’s primary forests and remaining old-growth forests are located in the boreal and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, equivalent to 15 per cent of the global forest area. The paper concludes, "Because old-growth forests steadily accumulate carbon for centuries, they contain vast quantities of it. They will lose much of this carbon to the atmosphere if they are disturbed, so carbon-accounting rules for forests should give credit for leaving old-growth forest intact."

Tree plantations by contrast may take decades to overcome the effects of the major disturbance associated with clearcutting and tree planting, during which time they are net carbon emission sources.

Old forests sequester a higher volume of greenhouse gas emissions than young, uniform forests due to the size and age of the trees and the structural and biological complexity and diversity of old-growth forest communities. For example, the duff on the forest floor in old growth forests contains high volumes of fungal diversity, and a variety of associated plants and other organisms. Many old growth trees continue to store carbon for many decades even after they have fallen. The many ecological linkages in the old forest contribute to locking up carbon and other greenhouse gases in a very efficient way. Further, old forests are extremely fire resistant and can recover their carbon storing capacity in a relatively short time after fire--unlike uniform tree plantations, which burn up with regularity in the Sierra Nevada and increase fire hazards overall. The role of fire must be factored into any carbon accounting equation in the Sierra Nevada.

And while structural lumber may store carbon for the lifetime of a building, much of the trees are converted to pulp and paper with a short lifetime. Lumber products that wind up in landfills actually emit methane--another greenhouse gas--in higher quantities than carbon dioxide. Overall, the long term carbon storage capacity of lumber products is a small fraction of the trees from which they came and cannot substitute for living trees for sequestrating carbon.

Finally, the industry argument fails to also account for all the myriad natural resource values that encompass a natural forest. The forest is not simply a stand of trees with commercial value, but they are also the homes and habitat for species that are massive--like the Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum--or small and easily overlooked, like the bioluminescent Sequoia Glowing Millipede (Motyxia sequoiae) that glows only in the dark in early springtime in the forest duff of the giant trees. These and hundreds of other species are at risk from climate change and unsustainable logging practices--including clearcutting and conversion to industrial forest plantations.

While the role of forests serving as carbon sinks is still being studied and debated, it is certain that limiting logging operations also conserves biodiversity and natural ecological processes while minimizing the likelihood of undesirable side effects such as adding fuel to the growing climate change inferno.

Like most things ecological, the many variables surrounding this issue are deeply interrelated. Sierra Forest Legacy is currently studying these complexities in detail, through literature review, analysis, and interactions with other scientists, policy experts, and our conservation partners. As stated by Dr. Beverly Law, Science chair of the Ameriflux project, "Carbon accounting is no small task." Scientists in many different research working groups are at work trying to make sense of the sometimes conflicting data retrieved in experiments that attempt to measure the many variables that must be accounted for.

We've also uploaded some of the most pertinent scientific research papers, some that are global, some that are general for forests, and some that are especially relevant to our Sierran forests. Look for more information here in the coming weeks and months, as we seek solutions to this rising emergency, and the means to incorporate the latest scientific findings into long term forest planning.

Note: Uploads are in progress.

IPPC -- United Nations Reports Link to the most recent (5th assessment, 2014)

Smith P., et al. 2014. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). IN: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Nabuurs, G.J., et al. 2007. Forestry. In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [B. Metz, et al (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Forests and Climate Change--Summaries and White Papers

Brown, R. (Defenders of Wildlife). 2008. The Implications of Climate Change for Conservation, Restoration, and Management of National Forest Lands. National Forest Restoration Collaborative. University of Oregon. (1.19 MB PDF)

Endangered Species Coalition. 2011. It's Getting Hot Out There: 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World. (848 KB PDF)

Hansen, J., 2008: Tipping point: Perspective of a climatologist. In State of the Wild 2008-2009: A Global Portrait of Wildlife, Wildlands, and Oceans. W. Woods, Ed. Wildlife Conservation Society/Island Press, pp. 6-15. (535 KB PDF)

Ingerson, A. (The Wilderness Society). 2009. Wood Products and Carbon Storage: Can Increased Production Help Solve the Climate Crisis? The Wilderness Society's Science and Economics Research Department, Washington, D.C. (1.09 MB PDF)

Mackey, B. et al. 2008. Green Carbon : The Role of Natural Forests in Carbon Storage. The Australian National University. (1.97 MB PDF)

North, M. 2009. Forest Management Strategies for Fuels Reduction and Sensitive Species Under Changing Climate Conditions. PowerPoint presentation from Sierra Nevada Climate Change Symposium, Incline Village, South Lake Tahoe. March 2009. (1.09 MB PDF) Read more from the symposium at this link.

Ryan, M.G. et al. 2010. A Synthesis of the science on forests and carbon for U.S. forests. Issues in Ecology. 13, Spring 2010. (1.35 MB PDF)

Wayburn, L.A. et al. (Pacific Forest Trust). 2007. Forest Carbon in the United States: Opportunities and Options for Private Lands. (1.68 MB PDF)

Pew Center on Global Climate Change. 2003. Forests and Global Climate Change: Potential lmpacts on U.S. Forest Resources. (1.29 MB PDF)

California Climate Change Center (AB 32)

Governor's Climate and Forestry Task Force

California Climate Action Team

California Forest Climate Action Team

AB 32 Climate Action Team Draft Report, March 2009. Comments on this draft are accepted until May 1, 2009.

AB 32 Forestry Sector Summary and Analysis supporting report for the above.

Luers A.L. et al. 2006. Our Changing Climate: Assessing the Risks to California: A Summary Report from the California Climate Change Center. CEC-500-2006-077.(1.93 MB PDF)

Analysis of Cap and Trade

Chan, M. (Friends of the Earth). 2009. Sub-prime Carbon: Rethinking the World's Largest New Derivative Market. (658 KB PDF)

GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office). 2008. International Climate Change Programs: Lessons Learned from the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. GAO-09-051, Report to Congressional Requesters, Washington, D.C. (1.05 MB PDF)

GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office). 2009. Climate Change: Observations on the Potential Role of Carbon Offsets in Climate Change Legislation (458 KB PDF)

Hansen, J. 2008. Letter to Barack Obama from James Hansen, Director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies. (78 KB PDF)

Science Literature

Anthoni, P. et al. 2002. Seasonal differences in carbon and water vapor exchange in young and old-growth ponderosa pine ecosystems. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 111: 203–222. (459 KB)

Baldocci, D. 2008. 'Breathing' of the terrestrial biosphere: lessons learned from a global
network of carbon dioxide flux measurement systems. Australian Journal of Botany, 56, 1–26.(805 KB PDF)

Battles, J. J., Robards, T., Das, A., Waring, K., Gilless, K., Biging, G. and Schurr, F. 2008. Climate change impacts on forest growth and tree mortality: a data-driven modeling study in the mixed conifer forest of the Sierra Nevada, California. Climatic Change 87 (Suppl 1):S193–S213. (487 KB PDF)

Battles, J.J. et al. 2009. Projecting climate change impacts on forest growth and yield for California's Sierran Mixed Conifer forests. Report from California Climate Change Center. CEC-500-2009-047-D. (2.02 MB PDF)

Boerner, R.E.J., J. Huang, and S. Hart. 2008. Fire, thinning, and the carbon economy: Effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments on estimated carbon storage and sequestration rate. For. Ecol. and Mgmt. 255: 3081-3097. (1.81 MB PDF)

Concilio, A., J. Chen, S. Ma, and M. North. 2009. Precipitation drives interannual variation in summer soil respiration in a Mediterranean-climate, mixed-conifer forest. Climate Change 92:109-122. (365 KB PDF)

Depro B.M., B. Murray, R. Alig, A. Shanks. 2008. Public land, timber harvests, and climate
mitigation: Quantifying carbon sequestration potential on U.S. public timberlands. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 1122–1134. (821 KB PDF)

Dixon, K., S. Brown, R. A. Houghton, A. M. Solomon, M. C. Trexler and J. Wisniewski. 1994. Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems. Science 263 (4144) : 185-190. (1.45 MB PDF)

Donato, D.C., J.L. Campbell, J.B. Fontaine, and B.E. Law. 2009. Quantifying char in postfire woody detritus inventories. Fire Ecology 5:2(104-115). (1.67 MB PDF)

Earles, J.M., North, M.P., and M.D. Hurteau. 2014. Wildfire and drought dynamics destabilize carbon stores of fire-suppressed forests. Ecological Applications, 24(4), 2014, pp. 732–740. (3.84 MB PDF)

Fahey, T.J. et al. 2009 in press. Forest carbon storage: ecology, management, and policy. Frontiers in Ecol. doi:10.1890/080169. (460 KB PDF)

Fellows, A.W., and M.L. Goulden. 2008. Has fire suppression increased the amount of carbon stored in Western U.S. forests? Geophysical Research Letters 35:L12404, doi:10.1029/2008GL033965.(118 KB PDF)

Field, Christopher B. and Jorg Kaduk. 2004. The carbon balance of an old-growth forest: building across approaches. Ecosystems 7 (5): 525-533. (671 KB PDF)

Goldstein, A.H. et al. 2000. Effects of climate variability on the carbon dioxide, water, and sensible heat fluxes above a ponderosa pine plantation in the Sierra Nevada (CA). Agric. and Forest Meteorology. 101:113-129. (632 KB PDF)

Goss, M., D.L. Swain, J.T. Abatzoglou, A. Sarhadi, C.A. Kolden, A.P. Williams, and N.S. Diffenbaugh. 2020. Climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme autumn wildfire conditions across California. Environmental Research Letters. 15(2020):094016.  

Goward, S.N. et al. 2008. Forest disturbance and North American carbon flux. Eos 89:11;105-116. (235 KB PDF)

Gower, S.T. 2003. Patterns and mechanisms of the forest carbon cycle. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 28:169–204, doi: 10.1146/ (621 KB PDF)

Griffin, D. and K.J. Anchukaitis. 2014. How unusual is the 2012–2014 California drought? Geophys.
Res. Lett.
, 41, 9017–9023, doi:10.1002/2014GL062433.9 (653 KB PDF)

Harmon, M, W. Ferrell, and J.F. Franklin. 1990. Effects on carbon storage of conversion of old-growth forests to young forests. Science, 247, 699–702. (457 KB PDF)

Hayhoe, K. et al. 2004. Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101(34):12422-12427. (486 KB PDF)

Hudiburg, T. et al. 2009. Carbon dynamics of Oregon and Northern California forests and potential land-based carbon storage. Ecological Applications 19(1):163–180. (2.56 MB PDF)

Hurteau, M.D., B. Hungate, and G. Koch. 2009. Accounting for risk in valuing forest carbon offsets. Carbon Balance and Management. 4:1 doi:10.1186/1750-0680-4-1. (555 KB PDF)

Hurteau, M. and M. North. 2009. Fuel treatment effects on tree-based forest carbon storage and emissions under modeled wildfire scenarios. Front Ecol Environ 2009; 7, doi:10.1890/080049. (212 KB PDF)

Hurteau, M. and M. North.  2010. Carbon recovery rates following different wildfire risk mitigation treatments.  Forest Ecology and Management 260: 930-937. (360 KB PDF)

Irvine, J., Law, B. E., Hibbard, K. A. 2007. Postfire carbon pools and fluxes in semiarid ponderosa pine in Central Oregon. Glob. Change Biol. 13, 1748–1760. (217 KB PDF)

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