The forest surrounds Moosehead Lake near Rockwood, Maine, on July 28, 2017. Maine officials are close to finalizing a land use agreement that supporters says would protect one of the most rural corners of the country from overdevelopment. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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 found that improved forest practices including increased stocking of trees could bolster carbon storage by an estimated 488 million metric tons. The authors said 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, said 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 said.

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.

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.