Since 1990, scientists at ESSA have been developing and using quantitative tools to model forest carbon.

National Carbon Budget Model

On behalf of Natural Resources Canada, ESSA designed and led the development of a national forest carbon accounting model that track carbon in living trees (including roots), soil, and dead organic matter. Changes (fluxes) in carbon due to growth, natural turnover, management, fire, and large-scale disturbances are also accounted for. The most recent release, CBM-CFS3 has added the ability to simulate afforestation and deforestation. The model is now developed and maintained by the Canadian Forest Service and serves as Canada’s principal forest carbon accounting model.

Forest Products Model

ESSA also led the development of the Forest Products Sector model that tracks carbon in wood products from the point at which carbon leaves the forest, through processing and end-use, and finally into landfills. This model simulates different types of wood and pulp processing, recycling, energy production and use, and landfill dynamics. The Forest Products Sector model provides the ability to quantify and study the impacts of past, present and potential future changes to the management of carbon in harvested wood products. The model can be used to explore the implications of changes in processing efficiency, changes in recycling practices and the use of biofuels. Although not yet available for general use, the Forest Products Sector model is currently used to perform analyses for the Canadian Forest Service and is maintained and regularly enhanced by ESSA.

Other Carbon Models

In addition to these two models, ESSA has recently worked with the USDA Forest Service to develop a carbon accounting module for the Fire and Fuels Extension (FFE) to the Forest Vegetation Simulator, a stand- and landscape-level forest growth model used across the US at federal and state levels. We have also worked with forest companies (notably Weyerhaeuser) to develop customized carbon accounting models that work with their in-house proprietary growth and management models.