The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is a tool to help learn about how carbon works in the forest sector; that is the forest itself and the carbon that is harvested from the forest.
The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator integrates a number of kinds of software to gather information from users and to output results. But at its heart lies a model called LANDCARB that is designed to simulate the dynamics of living and dead pools of carbon in forest stands and landscapes. It also includes a submodel that estimates how harvested carbon is manufactured into forest products, as well as how these are used, and disposed. While there are many aspects of forest carbon dynamics LANDCARB 3.0 can be used to examine climate change, tree species, and succession. The version used in the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is parameterized to allow the user to examine how natural disturbances such as wildfire and management activities such as timber harvest, site preparation, and artificial regeneration have on carbon dynamics. The user can examine carbon dynamics for a stand or for a landscape comprised of many stands. The results are presented in graphical form (which can be copied onscreen and pasted into a report) or as text output files that can be used to create custom graphs and analyzes. Output data represent either the store (or in the case of biofuels the offset) associated with a pool or the balance of a particular pool. Individual pools are combined at different levels so the user can look at an overall result or break it down into individual parts to gain deeper understanding.
In addition to running various simulations the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator has a Tutorial Section to help users learn more about the model being used and how to run the Calculator. It also has results from a number of simulation experiments that will help users learn more about how carbon works in the forest sector. In some cases, it might not be what conventional wisdom suggests! This is not necessarily surprising as carbon in the forest sector involves many interactions and offsetting effects that are not so easy to grasp right off. The user will also find other resources such as reprints and computer code that may prove useful for those wishing to go into greater detail or to run more complicated simulations.
Before using the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator a final word of caution is in order. LANDCARB 3.0 is a simulation model. As such, it represents our best representation of reality, but the results must be used with caution. There are many factors that may cause the projected results to deviate from what actually occurs. Bear in mind that every simulation model has a number of assumptions, and when these are not met, the projected results may be entirely misleading. It may also be the case that the simulations are correct in a relative sense but not in an absolute sense. When interpreting results bear in mind that relative differences will always be more robust than absolute differences. Finally, it must be kept in mind that simulation models are only tools to be used primarily for planning or understanding how systems work. They are not a substitute for actual measurements of the actual forest carbon stores of a particular stand or landscape.
Have fun learning about how carbon flows into and out of the forest sector!