Every now and again I like to return to a topic I’ve already touched on before (please don’t ask me to find where I did, the archives confuse me). So when my news feeds pointed me towards this new research, I couldn’t help but head back to another ‘no-brainer’ for you all.
To be published online in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management, new research shows that, while planting trees alone may not be the only solution to solving our climate problems, planting new forests or managing existing forests or agricultural land could help us in the long term.
How? By encouraging the land to work as the natural carbon sink it has been for so long.
Rik Leemans and colleagues from Wageningen University, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency created computer models to check the future effects of carbon plantations. They estimated their long term physical and sequestration potential up to the end of this century, as well as their effectiveness in slowing down the increase of atmospheric C02.
The two baseline outcomes differed massively, with a difference of nearly 100% in the sequestration potential up to 2100.
From the press release; ‘This highlights the effect of future land use uncertainties. Social, economic and institutional barriers preventing carbon plantations in natural vegetation areas decrease the plantation’s sink potential by 75% or more. Nevertheless, the forest’s potential should not to be underestimated: Even the most conservative assumptions suggest that the cumulative sequestration potential up to 2100 can compensate for 5-7% of energy and industry related CO2 emissions.’
However, trees aren’t a quick fix, Leemans cautions. “The potential for the coming decades is limited due to the limited amount of available land and the long period needed to compensate for emissions related to the establishment of the plantations. ”The net sequestration up to 2020 is limited, given the short-term increased need for agricultural land and the long period needed to compensate for emissions through plantation establishment.”