Forest Growth and the Global Carbon Cycle

More than any other kind of vegetation, forests capture vast amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide and store it in live and dead woody tissues (especially in stems and roots) and in forest floor and soil organic matter. But different forest types and developmental stages accumulate atmospheric carbon in different ways. In general, growth rates are greatest when forests are young, whereas the total store of biomass is greatest in older forests. The growth and productivity of ecosystems is of societal concern because it is a major process by which the atmospheric concentration of this "greenhouse" gas is regulated.

The general pattern in the increase of aboveground biomass in stands of the tulip poplar forest type determined from a series of plots in different stages in the SERC region.