Washington, April 15 : A new research has suggested that planting new forests, or managing existing forests or agricultural land more effectively could have a significant effect for carbon offsetting in the long term.
The research was conducted by Rik Leemans and colleagues from Wageningen University, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
Published online in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management, the report shows that although planting trees alone is unlikely to solve our climate problems, large-scale plantations can capitalise on nature's ability to act as a carbon sink.
The researchers modelled the future effects of carbon plantations by estimating their long-term physical and social sequestration potential up to the end of the 21st century, and their effectiveness in slowing down the increase in atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide).
The projected outcomes differ widely as the authors found a difference of nearly 100% in the sequestration potential up to 2100 between two baseline scenarios.
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.
Although plantations have a considerable carbon sink potential, the authors say that these should form part of a broader package of options, including reducing energy CO2 emissions.