Maine Forest Management Hampering Ability of Forests to Reap Climate Benefits

May 31, 2018
white pine crop

Change in Practices Could Result in More Carbon Storage, Less Greenhouse Gases

Over the last 20 years, Maine’s forests have become younger and less dense. As a result, forests are not providing the most climate benefits that they could through carbon sequestration and storage. However, more carbon could be stored over the next 100 years with less frequent harvests of smaller amounts of wood from each acre, according to new research from the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire.

Continuation of business-as-usual forestry will likely lead to Maine’s forest sector being a net carbon sink for the foreseeable future – meaning that when you add up all the carbon stored in the forest and also consider all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with harvesting trees and making forest products such as paper, lumber, and energy – there continues to be more carbon going into the system than going out,” said experiment station scientist John Gunn, research assistant professor of forest management.

“But, we can do better! When we shift to forestry practices that less frequently harvest smaller amounts of wood from each acre, this leads to 14 to 33 percent more carbon be stored over the next 100 years. This happens because trees would be allowed to grow older and larger and store more carbon than typically happens under current practices,” Gunn said.

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