gas (GHG) inventories conducted at state and regional levels serve to quantify
long-term emissions trends and set benchmarks against which to evaluate the
effectiveness of state government-mandated emissions reductions. GHG
inventories which incompletely account for land use, land change, and forestry
(LUCF) due to insufficient measurement tools discount the value of terrestrial
carbon (C) sinks. In consequence, sink preservation is often omitted from
regional land use planning. This paper proposes an accounting methodology which
estimates foregone C sequestration derived LUCF change in the southern New
England State of Connecticut (CT). The Natural Capital Project’s InVEST program
provided a template for modeling C storage and sequestration for CT’s land
class categories. LandSat mapping of long-term land cover patterns in CT
conducted by CLEAR at the University of CT served as input data for InVEST
computer modeling of C sequestration, both realized and foregone due to LUCF. The
results showed that: 1) Land converted from high C density forestland to low
density C land cover classes reduced the rate of C sequestration loss at 4.62
times the rate of forest reduction. Forest loss of 3.83% over twenty-five years
was responsible for foregone C sequestration equivalent to 17.68% of total 2010
sequestration. 2) Accumulating C stocks pushed total annual sequestration from
a 1985 baseline level of 866 MMTCO2 to 1116 MMTCO2 by
2010—a 250 MMTCO2 increment. 3) C sequestration from forest loss
since 1985 would have yielded additional sequestration of 53.74 MMTCO2 by 2010. By 2002, foregone yield surpassed CT’s annual fossil fuel emissions, currently
at 40 MMTCO2. 4) Preservation of forest C stocks over time becomes
the determining factor for influencing biomass C sequestration levels. Deciduous
forests have a preponderant influence on CO2 budgets. The ground-up
methodology to quantify land-based C sequestration presented here demonstrates
the influence of forest biomass in state-level C mitigation efforts useful to
climate-oriented policy makers.
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