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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Study: Improved forestry could boost carbon storage in New England by nearly half a billion tons

Research from the New England Forestry Foundation suggests there is the potential to sequester and store even more with improved forest management, conservation and expanded markets for wood.
Kris Bridges
for Maine Public
Research suggests there is the potential to sequester and store even more carbon in New England's woods with improved forest management.

A new study published in an international forestry journal finds that better forest management could significantly grow New England's carbon storage, improve wildlife habitat and provide a reliable timber supply.

Published in the journal Forests, the study finds that improved forest practices including increased stocking of trees could bolster carbon storage by an estimated 488 million metric tons. The authors say that's nearly a quarter of the emissions reductions New England needs to reach net-zero by 2050.

Robert Perschel of the New England Forestry Foundation, which led the research, says a recent $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will compensate landowners willing to implement climate-smart forest practices as part of a pilot project. But he says more investment will be needed.

"To really make this happen on a broader scale, we would need larger and continuing funding, but the numbers and the investment required per acre is comparing really favorably to other types of climate mitigation investments," Perschel says.

The study, based on forest growth and yield models, only takes into account carbon stored in the forest and not carbon stored in long-lived wood products.