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Scientists say forest thinning not a good strategy for reducing carbon emissions

OSU researchers say there are other valid reasons to thin forests

Thinning Northwest forests to reduce the prospects of severe wildfires isn't a good way to curb carbon emissions, according to a new study by Oregon State University scientists.

In research just published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, OSU scientists conclude there are high releases of carbon to selectively thin forests, which are not outweighed by the high carbon emissions expected from forest fires.

'Some researchers have suggested that various levels of tree removal are consistent with efforts to sequester carbon in forest biomass, and reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,' said John Campbell, an OSU research associate in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. 'That may make common sense, but it's based on unrealistic assumptions and not supported by the science.' 

There may be other valid reasons to thin forests, including restoration of forest health, wildlife enhancement or public safety, the OSU scientists say, but increased carbon sequestration is not one of them. 

To read the study: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/26174.