NbSI visit Carbon Community field site
The Carbon Community is running a large-scale tree planting experiment designed in partnership with scientists, to learn more about how to accelerate and enhance carbon sequestration using Nature-based Solutions.
The NbSI team recently visited their field study site of 25,600 trees in Glandwr Forest near Llandovery, Wales. The study has around 80 plots with different treatments, designed to compare a NbS approach of mixed native broadleaf planting with an alternative monoculture of non-native conifers (Sitka Spruce). Two methods designed to boost carbon drawdown are being tested, both separately and in combination: soil microbiome inoculation (using donor soils from nearby native or conifer woodlands) and addition of crushed basalt rock from nearby quarry waste (‘enhanced weathering’ which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, forming carbonate minerals, as the basalt oxidises).
The experimental design at the site provides a great opportunity to improve our understanding of key biodiversity-carbon trade-offs with different woodland creation approaches. Native broadleaf woodland is anticipated to provide greater benefits for biodiversity than non-native conifer woodland, whereas non-native conifer woodlands are typically anticipated to store carbon at faster rates. We plan to investigate aboveground and belowground invertebrate communities across the experimental treatments, allowing us to understand whether biodiversity responses differ among the forest types. We will also be able to assess whether the enhanced weathering and soil microbiome inoculation treatments impact soil ecological communities. Forest creation projects often focus on carbon drawdown, but as forest expansion accelerates in the UK maximising synergies with nature recovery is crucial. As the project develops it will also address key questions such as the resilience of the mixed native forest vs monoculture conifers to pests/pathogens or climatic extremes. More biodiverse forests are expected to be more resilient, which is critical to the longevity of carbon stocks.
The Carbon Community works to connect trees, science, and people. The project aims to involve communities to promote behaviour change to reduce CO2 emissions by knowledge sharing and helping to educate people (including students and volunteers) about environmental issues, enabling people to get involved in tree planting, and running citizen science programmes where people can contribute to scientific research into carbon sequestration. The NbSI team participated in ‘The Big Tree Measure 2022’ which brought together around 100 people to measure 6,400 trees as part of their carbon sequestration study. This volunteering effort is a great example of how people can contribute to scientific research into tackling pressing environmental issues.
Learn more about the field trials on the Carbon Community website.