Tree planting does not always boost ecosystem carbon stocks

Experts at the University of Stirling and the James Hutton Institute analysed four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland -- and found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage. The team -- led by Dr. Nina Friggens, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Stirling -- found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil.

The study recorded a 58 percent reduction in soil organic carbon stocks 12 years after the birch trees planting -- and, significantly, this decline was not compensated for by the gains in carbon contained in the growing trees. It also found that, 39 years after planting, the carbon sequestered into tree biomass offset the carbon lost from the soil -- but, crucially, there was no overall increase in ecosystem carbon stocks.



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