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Potential Carbon Benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program in the United States

Jerry R. Barker, Greg A. Baumgardner, David P. Turner and Jeffrey J. Lee
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 22, No. 4/5, Terrestrial Ecosystem Interactions with Global Change, Volume 2 (Jul. - Sep., 1995), pp. 743-751
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845976
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845976
Page Count: 9
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Potential Carbon Benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program in the United States
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Abstract

Three scenarios of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) were simulated to project carbon (C) pools and fluxes of associated grassland and forestland for the years 1986-2035; and to evaluate the potential to offset greenhouse gas emissions through C. sequestration. The approach was to link land-area enrolments with grassland and forestland C. densities to simulate C. pools and fluxes over 50 years. The CRP began in 1986 and by 1996 consisted of 16.2× 106 ha cropland converted to 14.7× 106 ha grassland and of 1.5× 106 ha forestland. The CRP1 simulated the likely outcome of the CRP as contracts expire in 1996 with the anticipated return of 8.7× 106 ha grassland and of 0.4× 106 ha forestland to crop production. The CRP2 assumed that the CRP continues with no land returning to crop production. The CRP3 was an expansion of the CRP2 to include afforestation of 4× 106 ha new land. Average net annual C gains for the years 1996-2005 were <1, 12, and 16 TgC yr-1 for CRP1, CRP2, and CRP3, respectively. Afforestation of marginal cropland as simulated under CRP3 could provide approximately 15% of the C offset needed to attain the Climate Change Action Plan of reducing greenhouse gas emmissions to their 1990 level by the year 2000 within the United States.

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