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Study Shows Importance of New England Forests in Climate Change Mitigation

A recent study released by Harvard Forest, the Highstead Foundation, and KKM Environmental Consulting reveals that New England’s forests currently sequester the equivalent of 14% of carbon emissions across the region’s 6 states and have the potential to sequester at least 20% of carbon emissions while also cleaning the air and water and increasing recreational opportunities and jobs.

New England forests remove over 760,000 tons of air pollution annually, worth approximately $550 million in health benefits, according to the report.

The study seeks to inform regional policy-making by detailing the carbon benefits of 5 complementary pathways to mitigating climate change. These are:

  • Avoided Deforestation: Change development practices to reduce annual rates of deforestation by 75%.
  • Wildland Reserves: Designate at least 10% of existing forests as forever wild, to allow more trees to grow old and accumulate and store additional carbon.
  • Improved Forest Management: Apply improved forest management practices to 50% of timberlands.
  • Mass Timber Construction: Replace concrete and steel with wood in 50% of eligible new institutional buildings and multi-family homes.
  • Urban and Suburban Forests: Increase tree canopy and forest cover by at least 5% in urban and suburban areas.

The study concludes that the cumulative potential carbon benefits of the 5 pathways outlined above amount to almost 360 million tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over 30 years, or the equivalent of displacing the total 30-year energy consumption of nearly 1.3 million New England households.

Read the full report

 

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