Carbon Trends and Management

Carbon Trends and Management assesses the stocks, sequestration, management, and vulnerability of carbon at ecosystem to global scales, shares this knowledge through outreach, and supports carbon- and climate-informed forest management.


The Carbon Trends and Management theme includes projects that produce and share information about land use, management, and climate change impacts on the carbon cycle. Our work creates resources that help managers consider climate change risks and take actions that maintain or enhance carbon benefits, primarily on forest lands. Focal areas include: assessing land use change and forest management effects on soil carbon, quantifying forest carbon dynamics and their drivers, and identifying linkages between carbon management decisions and related ecosystem services. Outreach efforts translate this science into resources and training opportunities, involving managers and partner organizations in the co- development of carbon management tools.

"WOW! Thanks so much for the prompt response. This is exactly why I reach out to someone more knowledgeable than I regarding carbon."

- Amanda Fordham, Manager of Science Information, Colorado State Forest Service 

"This team is very fortunate to have Luke Nave on it; he is guiding us on the research to support management."

- Stephanie Connolly, Program Specialist-Field Liaison, Office of Sustainability and Climate, USDA Forest Service 




A new peer-reviewed assessment describes how and where forestry, fires, and reforestation influence soil organic carbon in the Great Lakes region. It includes evidence-based tactics that can be used to mitigate losses or capitalize on probable gains in soil organic carbon, and a high-resolution GIS tool for anticipating forest harvest impacts on soil carbon.


Along with our partners, we recently completed an NSF-supported project on soil organic matter, which leveraged the Radiocarbon Collaborative to produce the largest, most diverse soil radiocarbon dataset ever generated. It also yielded 9 peer-reviewed papers, 1 Ph.D dissertation, 2 M.S. student theses, 19 conference presentations, and provided education and training for laboratory scientists, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral scientists during its 7-year run.


We contributed to the development, description, and evaluation of a set of climate-informed carbon practices for family forest owners. Landowners who enroll in the FCCP select one or more of the carbon practices to implement and then receive payments over the course of 20 years. The New England FFCP pilot implementation features forest management practices intended to increase carbon within 20 years; five landowners with nearly 2,000 acres have enrolled so far. We are also assisting The Nature Conservancy and American Forest Foundation in a pilot FFCP in the Northwoods region.



Additional regional soil carbon assessments are underway for the Pacific Northwest and the Southern Appalachians/Coastal Plain. In FY22 we hope to begin work on new regions, where we will move beyond a forest-focus to assess soil carbon options across the entire land sector. We will also continue to accelerate work with state-level partners to identify management scenarios that promote forest carbon sequestration in soil and non-soil pools, through our forest carbon management modeling project.


2021 Fast Facts

12 interactive online modules developed with Michigan State University's Forest Carbon and Climate Program

3 new project datasets containing census and carbon inventory information for 46,659 tree measurements shared via the Environmental Data Initiative

576 soil samples shared to support carbon cycle research in 2021

6 peer-reviewed journal articles