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New report highlights diversity and value of Alaska's coastal forests
Date:6/1/2011

A new report published by the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station presents summaries of current southeast and south-central Alaska forest topics, ranging from carbon and forest products to lichens and invasive species.

The report, Forests of Southeast and South-Central Alaska, 2004-2008, highlights key findings from the most recent data collected by the station's PNW Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) unit. Written by a group of 15 Forest Service, university, and nongovernmental scientists, the report is divided into 6 chapters and 14 summaries and is available online at http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/37951 and in print by request.

Among the key findings:

  • The southeast and south-central region contains 12 percent of Alaska's forest land (over 15 million acres). "That's an area about the size of West Virginia," said Glenn Christensen, an FIA analyst who helped to write the report. "About half of the state's productive timberland as well as half of the state's population is found in this region."

  • Carbon flux in Alaska's coastal forests is substantial, with trees there having sequestered more than 31 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere between 1995 to 2003 and 2004 to 2008. "That's roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 18 million passenger cars," said Tara Barrett, a research forester with the station and one of the authors of the report. Two-hundred-plus-year-old Sitka spruce forests stored the highest amounts of carbon, an average of 107 tons of carbon per acre.

  • Over the past half century, the coastal region described by the report has had a 2- to 3 F increase in average annual temperature, which could affect biomass. Forests within the region's higher-elevation areas had about a 7-percent increase in biomass in live trees, but no net change was found for lower-elevation forests. Com
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Contact: Yasmeen Sands
ysands@fs.fed.us
360-753-7716
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert

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