From outer space, a new dilemma for old-growth forests


A new study using laser pulses shot from satellites has found that the world's tallest forests are those along the Pacific Northwest coast.
Though the findings shouldn't shock anyone who grew up in the region, they offer another indication of how important these ancient trees eventually could become.
The temperate forests of Douglas fir, Western hemlock, redwoods and sequoias that stretch from northern California into British Columbia easily reach an average height of more than 131 feet. That's taller than the boreal forests of northern Canada and Eurasia, tropical rainforests and the broadleaf forests common in much of the United States and Europe. The only forests that come close are in Southeast Asia, along the southern rim of the Himalayas and in Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos.
… Environmentalists said cutting the tall forests wasn't the answer, because that could release up to 60 percent of the carbon that was stored in trees and the soil.
"We need to preserve the old growth for existing (carbon) storage," said Mike Anderson, a senior resource analyst with The Wilderness Society in Seattle. Anderson didn't rule out using private lands to increase carbon storage.