Forest Management and Incentives Groups- resource sharing

Please feel free to share any resources relevant to our group- this might include papers or documents for potential inclusion in the Knowledge Hub, as well as recorded presentations or speaker ideas.

As we approach the meetings next week, I wanted to share this information from Rayonier about their carbon accounting in 2019. It is pretty impressive!
"In 2019, Rayonier’s timberland assets sequestered an estimated 5.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents from the atmosphere, net of carbon emitted through operations and carbon removed/transferred to customers through harvest activity. At year-end 2019, the Company’s timberland assets stored an estimated 732 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in total.

For more information: Rayonier Releases Carbon Report Quantifying Its Net Positive Climate Impact | Rayonier Inc.

Thanks for sharing this. Some valuable data.

Hi Patricia, how have Rayonier accounted for biogenic carbon? We know from our engagement at a UN committee that there are some big gaps between how the environmental sector and what many of the woodland timber/pulp operators are advocating for, both in terms of whether to start counting product footprint at the mill gate or at the forest floor and whether to count future sequestration potential now (ie the trees will re-absorb their carbon many decades from when cut but to consider the wood product carbon neutral now). Canopy is working to ensure the carbon atoms that are actually tied to the ground are what is being counted now so that the target atmospheric concentrations for the 2030 and 2050 Paris agreement timelines are actually met. Can you provide any clarification on how Rayonier has approached these two issues?

Valerie Langer
Fibre Solutions Strategist
M: +1-604-307-6448

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You will have to explore their report which I cited. I do not know the answer to your questions.

This document by ecologist Jim Pojar is very helpful in clarifying key misleading claims regarding carbon implications of forest management. It focusses on BC, but much of the science is broadly applicable. It will be important to learn from this in establishing what constitutes “climate smart” forest management in the present context.

Seven Forest Carbon Myths, Misconceptions, or Oversimplifications:

  1. Forestry is carbon neutral.
  2. Young forests take up more carbon than they emit and are ‘carbon sinks’; mature and old forests take up less carbon than they emit, are ‘carbon sources’, and contribute to climate warming.
  3. Mature and old forests are not permanent carbon banks because inevitably the trees die; the forests will succumb to wildfire, insects, disease, drought, and logging.
  4. Trees will grow faster and forest productivity will be enhanced as climate continues to become warmer and wetter and as CO2 levels rise. Production forestry can help slow global warming.
  5. Intensive, short-rotation ‘agroforestry’ can maximize carbon storage.
  6. Generating energy by burning woody biomass is both renewable and carbon neutral.
  7. Wood pellets help fight climate change.

Hi, Valerie - I can provide several thoughts that might help answer your questions:

  1. Rayonier’s report looks at the company’s entire carbon footprint beyond on-the-ground forestry operations, much the way any company would. The report provides a summary of their findings.

  2. The question of how to begin measuring carbon in a circular economy is always a matter of perspective - at what part of the circle do you begin? For many companies, like Rayonier, that have been around for nearly a hundred years or longer, that circle has been ongoing for quite a while. Trees harvested today were grown in anticipation of eventual harvest, so you could begin the circle at the beginning of forest regeneration or at the time of harvest. Either way, carbon measurement hinges on whether the cycle of harvest and regrowth is continuing.

  3. Nationwide in the US (lower 48), private working forests are providing 90% of the wood and fiber for mills while simultaneously producing annual net sequestration of close to 1.2 gigatons of carbon, or nearly 75% of all net forest carbon sequestration. Total annual growth exceeds annual harvest by over 40%.

  4. Each year forest owners harvest about 2% of the total private working forests land base, and replant 2% of that same land base. That requires planting between 1.5 and 2 billion trees a year.

  5. Bottom line is that there is a powerful carbon negative circular economy story to tell that is good news for the work of this summit.

Importantly, I am not in a position to speak about Alaska or Canada. Very little wood flows from Alaska, and there is very little, if any, private working forestland there. Canada is outside of my knowledge base, so I have to defer to others.


This list would be better called “Seven Oversimplifications”. Every one of these “claims” is contextual, not necessarily wrong and certainly not right. Calling these “myths” is exactly the kind of oversimplification that we need to avoid. It leads to a pendulum of ideas and ideologies that keeps swinging back and forth. Let’s stop the pendulum swinging and start systems thinking!

To be clear, these are listed as “Myths, Misconceptions, or Oversimplifications”, and it is much more nuanced than the topline statements I copied here (I highly recommend reading the full PDF). Most of Pojar’s comments are grounded in “it depends…” and provides context. For example, “A managed secondary forest could — in principle — recapture the lost forest carbon if allowed to regrow long enough to fully recover its carbon stock.”
If you have specific counterarguments to the claims made, I suggest doing so based on the full text (in the interest of avoiding oversimplification).
The reason this document has proved so valuable is that it provides a science-based critical review of the current dominant narrative, which is backed by vested interests. By delving into these oversimplifications and providing context for when various claims may be true, I think it contributes to a deeper understanding.