Forest health and carbon sequestration

Forest health signifies the carrying capacity of a forest for carbon sequestration. A healthy forest is thought to be a natural solution to climate change because it removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and stores it in wood and soil. Increasing the amount of carbon stored in healthy forests and harvested wood products can help to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere while also providing other important ecosystem services.

Forest health is a qualitative term that refers to the general condition of a forest. A healthy forest is one that is relatively free of insect infestations, diseases, exotic weeds, and air pollution. All species making up the forest are able to grow at rates commensurate with the local climate, geographic position, and soil resources to complete their life cycles. A healthy forest can resist damage from catastrophic events like acute insect and disease attacks, fire, wind, and flooding, and fully recover from these perturbations to continue its life history functions over decades, centuries, or millennia.

Invasive insects and diseases, drought, wildfires, and urban development can all have an impact on the amount of forestland and the rate of carbon sequestration and storage, especially when combined with climate change.

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