1. Natural climate solutions (NCS), a set of land management, conservation and restoration practices aimed at mitigating climate change, have been introduced as cost-effective strategies to increase carbon (C) sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems. Improved forest management (IFM) has been identified as one NCS for working forests with substantial climate change mitigation potential. However, there is a disconnect between the policy and carbon markets context and the scientific evidence for verifiable C benefits. Further, forest soil C—the largest forest C pool—has largely been excluded from current forest management guidelines and has not been included in the IFM discourse.
2. Herein, we assess the evidence for the potential of specific IFM practices to sequester C in live forest vegetation and store it in both live and dead organic matter, and forest soil. We review IFM approaches that can enhance forest C storage, and links to best management practices and silvicultural systems to offer guidance for practitioners and researchers in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Finally, we discuss the current challenges and opportunities in including soil C in forest C management guidelines and frameworks.