Everyone understands that trees pull carbon from the atmosphere. That's good. And when you burn wood, it releases carbon dioxide. And if we harvest wood and turn it into furniture or a house that we have "sequestered" a bunch of carbon and that's good. And a lot of our understanding is stuck there.
It turns out the carbon cycle is a lot more complicated, which makes sense for an ecology with a primary actor that can live for a thousand years or more! The trick is that if you want to engage in forestry AND keep a sharp eye on both carbon emissions and carbon capture then a lot of "standard" forestry practices are really suspect. Consider the balance of carbon in the forest - it varies but its about 40% above the ground, 40% below the ground and 20% on the ground. The standing forest continues to collect carbon above and below ground, with falling needles, branches, etc building up a layer of carbon on the forest floor.
It seems like we should be able to come in, pluck the trees and their 40% share of the carbon, sequester it in products, and replant to keep pulling carbon from the atmosphere. But when you clear cut you've changed the local conditions significantly - you've removed shade and respiration, altered water capture, shifted the system under the soil, interrupted the normal forest succession. The result is that even after replanting, that patch of land emits more carbon dioxide than it absorbs for fourteen years - with a lot of the carbon in the soil and above ground released. Add in the fact that a lot of corporate managed lands are trying to operate on 30 year cycles and there isn't a lot of sequestration going on!
I'm trying to find how I can balance my interest in a healthy forest, healthy planet and harvest trees.