Carbon sequestration is a naturally occurring taking up of atmospheric carbon dioxide by forests, oceans and grasslands during photosynthesis. Most terrestrial carbon storage is in tree trunks, branches, foliage, and roots which is often called biomass. Carbon is also deposited directly into soils.
Sustainable forestry practices are known to increase properly managed forests' ability to store or sequester atmospheric carbon while improving soil and water quality and the entire ecosystem. According to the USDA Forest Service, "Planting new trees and improving forest health through thinning and prescribed burning are some of the ways to increase forest carbon in the long run. Harvesting and regenerating forests can also result in net carbon sequestration stored in wood products and new forest growth."
What is a Carbon Sink?
Many natural and artificial processes can act as atmospheric sponges that absorb carbon dioxide. Oceans, forests, most plants and algae collect carbon through the photosynthetic process. This capturing of atmospheric carbon by a healthy ecosystem is called a "carbon sink". A carbon sink can be created naturally or using man-made reservoirs that gather and store carbon dioxide for an indefinite period. The collection of carbon sequestration in forests and locked up in wood products helps to offset sources of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Deforestation, forest fires, and fossil fuel emissions are common examples of sources of carbon dioxide and which is suspected as harmful to the environment.
What is a Forest Carbon Offset?
A forest carbon offset is a financial tool, used by C02 polluters, to offset their emissions of greenhouse gases. One carbon offset (or credit) represents one less metric ton of greenhouse gas that otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere. Commercial operations who are increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide can offset their pollution by buying carbon credits from reputable auditor/broker registries.
By purchasing carbon offsets, companies invest in projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in one location to compensate for their own emissions in another. Conservation International suggests that "More and more companies are becoming convinced that reducing their carbon footprint through internal emissions reductions supplemented with offset purchases because they believe it’s the right thing to do."
The National Forest Foundation has developed a Carbon Calculator to help estimate your carbon footprint, or the amount of carbon dioxide that your daily activities release into the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels. Plug your numbers into the Carbon Calculator to see how you compare to the average American.