NCFA: Carbon stored in forests is not decreasing

By Erin Voegele | September 23, 2019

The North Carolina Forestry Association has spoken out to dispute a recent report released by the Center for Sustainable Economy and the Dogwood Alliance that claims that carbon stored in forests is decreasing. NCFA stresses it is not.

The report, released Sept. 10, claims that industrial logging is North Carolina’s third most carbon intensive sector, following electricity and transportation, and that the state’s recently released Greenhouse Gas Inventory failed to accurately account for emission from logging, forest degradation and the biomass industry.

“These two activist organization have, for years, called for an end to logging and forestry operations not just in North Carolina, but also across the United States,” the NCFA said in a statement. “In fact, CSE and Dogwood Alliance have invented their own ‘math’ to assert that carbon stored in forests is decreasing. It is not.”

The NCFA cites data from the state of North Carolina and the U.S. Forest Service that shows carbon stored in the state’s forests has increased since 1990, the baseline year for the January 2019 greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory report cited by CSE and the Dogwood Alliance. The NCFA also references Forest Service data that corms that both forest area and forest inventory have increased in the Southeastern U.S. since recordkeeping began in 1953.

“CSE and Dogwood Alliance also suggest, without evidence, that working forests, which make up 85 percent of the state’s forests are somehow a ‘catch-and-release’ carbon source,” the NCFA said. “Again, U.S. Forest Service data demonstrates that North Carolina’s working forests are a carbon sink, not a source.”

While the CSE and Dogwood Alliance cite the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the definitive expert source of climate, the NCFA stresses both groups fail to acknowledge that IPCC reports consistently emphasize that the integrated forest products industry is an essential part of the strategy to increase forest carbon stocks and mitigate carbon emissions. “In fact, every successful pathway to achieving the 1.5-dgree Celsius climate goal identified by the IPCC’s October 2018 report calls for the use of sustainably sourced biomass,” the NCFA said.

The NCFA also noted that when groups like CSE and the Dogwood Alliance make it harder for private landowners to profitably grow trees they are actually pushing those landowners to do something else with their land. “If landowners cannot make money sustainably growing trees, they will grow other crops,” NCFA said. “Or worse, they will sell their land for development.”

Enviva shared the NCFA’s response to the CSE and Dogwood Alliance report on its website and via Twitter. Enviva and its business divisions own various wood pellet production plants in North Carolina, including a 370,000-metric ton per year facility in Ahoskie, a 510,000-metric-ton-per-year facility in Northampton County, a 600,000-metric-ton-per-year facility in Sampson County, and a 600,000-metric-ton-per-year facility in Hamlet. The company also operates a terminal at the Port of Wilmington in North Carolina.

A full copy of the NCFA response, authored by Executive Vice President John Hatcher, is available on the Enviva website