CAL FIRE's Climate Change Program
Forest protection and management can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions primarily through the process of sequestration. Trees pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to cellulose through the process of photosynthesis. As part of the Governor's Climate Action Team, CAL FIRE identified and has begun to analyze potential opportunities for GHG mitigation from the following activities:
- Reforestation: Reforestation is the planting and re-establishment of trees on lands that were previously covered with native forests. Mature forests store more carbon than brush or grasslands, therefore reforestation of burned, diseased or harvested sites will speed up the rate of C02 sequestration and provide more mitigation benefits in the near term.
- Conservation: Forest conservation preserves forestland by preventing development of forests or conversion to other uses. This protects the existing carbon stored in standing trees and maintains the land's inherent capacity for sequestering maximum amounts of C02 into the future.
- Forest Managemen: Forest management includes activities to improve forest health and to increase productivity such as reforestation, stand thinning, removal of competing vegetation, fuels reduction and timber harvest. Actions that promote faster growth, bigger trees, and forest stands that are more resistant to insects, disease and fire can result in more rapid C02 sequestration and can reduce risk of emissions from mortality and wildfires.
- Fuels Management and Biomass: Fuels management is the reduction of tree density, brush or other vegetation to decrease fire hazard. Fuels management in high risk and high hazard areas may result in net mitigation benefits by preventing wildfires and reducing damage. When fuel biomass is used to generate energy rather than burned or directed to landfill, it provides additional benefits as an alternative to fossil fuel.
- Urban Forestry: Urban forestry is the planting and management of trees in urban areas. Urban trees that shade houses can reduce energy use for air conditioning in hot climates. They also sequester C02 as they grow. Finally, if urban wood waste is used to generate energy, it reduces the use of fossil fuels.
Carbon Sequestration Yields and Price Analyses for Forest Management and Reforestation
- Research project at CAL FIRE's LaTour Demonstration State Forest in Shasta County which examines the effects of different management strategies on forest growth and carbon yields, and the economic implications for landowner investments in forest carbon projects.
Reforestation Project at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
- California Department of Parks and Recreation in partnership with CAL FIRE, San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara will re-forest patches of landscape on intensively burned areas of Cuymaca Rancho State Park in San Diego to provide wildlife habitat, recreation, watershed and climate benefits.