Conifers outstrip broadleaves in CO2 sequestration

Conifers sequester carbon more quickly over a 30-year period, but broadleaves almost catch up and start to soak up a comparable amount over longer time periods, a new report has said.

The Quantifying the Sustainable Forestry Carbon Cycle report by Forest Research found that planting a hectare of lightly managed broadleaf woodland would result in an average CO2 uptake of 1.3tCO2 per year until 2050, and that a hectare of moderately growing coniferous woodland would soak up 4.9tCO2 per year for the same period.

Over the period from 2022-2100, average annual CO2 uptake from these broadleaf and conifer woodlands would rise to 5.7tCO2 and 6.7tCO2 respectively. These figures include carbon stored in wood products from harvested woodlands. High-yielding sites for coniferous production, and the addition of potential avoided emissions through using wood products, would increase these rates substantially.

Forestry and Land Scotland said the research offered ‘evidence that commercial forestry will be the mainstay of climate emergency mitigation in Scotland’. A fuller assessment will be released later in 2022 and Scottish Forestry and Forest Research plan to hold stakeholder events to explain the analysis in more depth.