Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in National Parks: Values for the Conterminous United States

Product Type: 

Contractor Report

Year: 

2014

Author(s): 

Richardson, L., C. Huber, Z. Zhu, and L. Koontz

Suggested Citation: 

Richardson, L., C. Huber, Z. Zhu, and L. Koontz. 2014. Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in National Parks: Values for the Conterminous United States. Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR—2014/880. Fort Collins, CO: National Park Service. 36 p.

Executive Summary

Lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS) provide a wide range of beneficial services to the American public. This study quantifies the ecosystem service value of carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems within NPS units in the conterminous United States for which data were available. Combining annual net carbon balance data with spatially explicit NPS land unit boundaries and social cost of carbon estimates, this study calculates the net metric tons of carbon dioxide sequestered annually by park unit under baseline conditions, as well as the associated economic value to society. Results show that, in aggregate, NPS lands in the conterminous United States are a net carbon sink, sequestering more than 14.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The associated societal value of this service is estimated at approximately $582.5 million per year. While this analysis provides a broad overview of the annual value of carbon sequestration on NPS lands averaged over a five year baseline period, it should be noted that carbon fluxes fluctuate from year to year, and there can be considerable variation in net carbon balance and its associated value within a given park unit. Future research could look in-depth at the spatial heterogeneity of carbon flux within specific NPS land units.

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