If, for example, the region's forests were allowed to increase in age by 50 years, their potential to store atmospheric carbon would increase by 15 percent, researchers at Oregon State University, Corvallis, said.
That would significantly offset the nation's carbon budget since the Pacific Northwest accounts for 14 percent of the live biomass in the United States, said Beverly Law, a professor of forest science at the university.
Law's team analyzed two decades worth of information from 15,000 forest plots in the North American Carbon Program. The team concluded carbon storage could be increased with reduced timber harvests and better forest management, a release from the university said Friday.
"Increasing carbon storage in this region might be one contribution to what clearly is a much larger global issue, something that policy makers could consider," Law said.