Given temperate and boreal rainforests are very wet places and trees are relatively long-lived they are highly productive ecosystems that store carbon for centuries in massive trees, dense foliage, and productive soils. In fact, these rainforests are among the world’s champions in storing carbon. In 2007, these cool-weather rainforests contained roughly 196 gigatonnes of carbon – the equivalent of more than six times the total annual carbon dioxide emissions from human activities.
Based on recent mapping using government datasets, Geos Institute and partners have determined that the largest concentration (outside of Alaska’s Tongass rainforest) of carbon-dense forests is in the Pacific Northwest, mostly on federal lands.
Importantly, when carbon-dense rainforests are cut down, about half of their stored carbon is released as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas pollutant. Deforestation contributes more than the entire global transportation system and is second only to the energy sector in release of dangerous greenhouse pollutants.