Net Primary Productivity

The Indicator

Net Primary Productivity (NPP) is the rate at which plants incorporate atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis--forests account for almost 48 % of the Maryland's carbon fixation (only swampy areas and marshes, such as those on the Lower Eastern Shore, tie up more carbon annually). The NPP of an area sets the upper limit for the rate at which carbon can be sequestered by that area--how much carbon is stored in biomass and therefore not contributing to atmospheric carbon levels. Approximately a seventh of total atmospheric carbon dioxide is passed into vegetation annually.

Indicator Use

This indicator points toward land management opportunities to offset CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Where net primary productivity is low, restoration of forest and wetland land cover could be beneficial from the perspective of greenhouse gases.

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