Forests store vast amounts of carbon that is released when the forests are cleared. Retaining forests, or restoring trees on low productivity land, can make a major cotribution to reducing the effects of global warming. Besides carbon storage forests also provide timber and firewood, reduce erosion, and provide habitat for many plants and animals. Burning forests produces soot a major contributor to global warming.

Information on the carbon storage of different types of forest can be confusing due to different methods to calculate carbon storage. However, a recent overview of carbon storage by forests has been completed by the Australian National University.

There are global maps of forest storage potential

Below: The metric tons (1000 kg) of carbon stored by different forest types per hectare (100 x 100m), and the carbon emission equivalent of one year of driving by the average USA car owner. Values are averages and values for particular forests may be much higher, particularly if forest types have predominantly peat soils. An area of tropical forest 4 meters by 10 meters in area is the amount needed to offset the carbon emissions of one year of driving by the average USA car owner.

Forest type  tC/ha  Cars
Cool temperate moist forest  620  620
Warm temperate moist forest  500  500
Cool temperate dry forest  280  280
Tropical rainforest  250  250
Boreal forest  100  100