Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. Academic Article uri icon


  • Carbon sequestration strategies highlight tree plantations without considering their full environmental consequences. We combined field research, synthesis of more than 600 observations, and climate and economic modeling to document substantial losses in stream flow, and increased soil salinization and acidification, with afforestation. Plantations decreased stream flow by 227 millimeters per year globally (52%), with 13% of streams drying completely for at least 1 year. Regional modeling of U.S. plantation scenarios suggests that climate feedbacks are unlikely to offset such water losses and could exacerbate them. Plantations can help control groundwater recharge and upwelling but reduce stream flow and salinize and acidify some soils.

published proceedings

  • Science

altmetric score

  • 184.756

author list (cited authors)

  • Jackson, R. B., Jobbgy, E. G., Avissar, R., Roy, S. B., Barrett, D. J., Cook, C. W., ... Murray, B. C.

citation count

  • 807

complete list of authors

  • Jackson, Robert B||Jobbágy, Esteban G||Avissar, Roni||Roy, Somnath Baidya||Barrett, Damian J||Cook, Charles W||Farley, Kathleen A||le Maitre, David C||McCarl, Bruce A||Murray, Brian C

publication date

  • December 2005