Multifunctional landscapes – carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration refers to the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. This is an important aspect of addressing climate change, as CO2 is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Currently, the only effective method we have for doing this at scale is through plantation of forests and woodlands and conservation of carbon-storing ecosystems such as peatlands.

Other sources of greenhouse gases include livestock farming (which produces large amounts of methane) and crop-based agriculture (which often relies on fertilisers which can produce nitrous oxides).

How we manage land therefore affects our chances of mitigating climate change and what we do in one area could have major implications for another. For instance we might successfully expand our forests and woodlands, but disrupt peatland habitats in the process.

We need to balance the need for carbon sequestration against other pressing needs such as food production, biodiversity, water quality, recreation and protection from floods, droughts and wildfires.

The Royal Society’s Multifunctional Landscapes report advises on the use of science to increase the productivity of land and makes recommendations on the data, innovation, skills and policy required to create landscapes which meet society’s many needs efficiently and sustainably.