Capturing Carbon By Planting Trees

An important part of tackling our climate crisis is, of course, reducing carbon emissions. But finding ways to sequester more carbon is equally important. When you think of capturing carbon, or carbon sequestration, one of the first things that springs to mind is likely to be trees.

Planting trees is, of course, one important thing we can do to increase carbon capture. And it is something many of us can do at home.

Research has shown that all tree species absorb CO2 from planting to old age (200 years plus). However, they reach their peak in terms of carbon sequestration in their ‘teenage’ years (from 10-45 years after planting). Carbon sequestration rates are influenced by the species of tree, its size and age, temperatures and many other environmental factors.

But tree planting is not the only thing involved in capturing carbon in your garden. While tree planting is important, it is also important to understand that reforestation is not a panacea for global warming. Tomorrow, we’ll look at a range of solutions to help you capture more carbon in your garden.

Deforestation (and soil degradation) have reduced our planet’s ability to self-regulate. But effective land management can make a big difference – even when it comes to how we, as individuals, manage our own areas of land – however small.

When it comes to trees, careful management of forest or woodland can result in systems that are far more than just tree plantations. As well as increasing biodiversity, a true forest or woodland system can have layers of planting and complex systems which increase the amount of carbon sequestration overall. (A well-designed domestic forest garden is an example of this idea.)

Choosing Trees For Carbon Capture

Remember that the benefits will be lost when trees are chopped down and the CO2 will return to the atmosphere if the material is then burned. Permanence is therefore key. 

The best trees to plant will often be those which serve other benefits to humanity. This limits the possibility that these trees will be chopped down. Fruit and nut trees are therefore often good choices, since they can serve multiple functions at the same time. 

Carbon capture schemes often favour younger trees, which grow more quickly. But slower growing trees can sequester much more carbon over their considerably longer lives. The best strategy, therefore, from an environmental standpoint, is generally to plant a number of different tree species, to maximise shorter and longer term sequestration. 

Other good options include trees which can be coppiced. This means that material can be harvested from the stand without requiring its complete destruction. In a coppicing system, less land must to be given over to trees for the same carbon benefit.

If you would like advice on which trees will be best for where you live, and for your needs, please do get in touch.

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