Trees and climate change are intimately linked. Trees and forests are affected by rising temperatures, trees sequester carbon, politicians want us to plant more trees to achieve Greenhouse Gas Emissions targets and for the public it feels good to plant a tree to offset your GHG emissions and to do a good thing for the planet.
How much carbon dioxide a tree will sequester, or take up, is dependent on how well matched the tree species is to the site in which it is planted and the rate at which the tree grows naturally. Fast growing conifers will sequester carbon dioxide faster than slower growing broadleaved trees however the fast-growing conifers are generally harvested at 40 or so years, whilst hardwood trees, such as oak, may never be harvested at all, or are harvested over a longer time period of say 200 years. And the fate of the timber products determines how effectively and for how long carbon in timbe is stored; conifer products include construction timber, pallet wood, fencing, pulp wood, chip wood and biomass (for energy creation), some of which are short life cycle products and hardwood products used for furniture, internal finishing, fencing and firewood also have variable carbon storage lifecycles, some of which are short and some, like quality furniture making can be for a long time.
The Forest Policy Group welcomes the Scottish Governments commitment to fighting climate change through its policy of planting more trees to help achieve Net Zero emissions by 2045 although there is a however. However, the expansions of industrial Sitka spruce monoculture – and the cultivation techniques employed to establish plantations on Scotland’s most effective carbon store – peat – is currently the subject of some debate and FPG have been fortunate in being funded by the Pebble Trust to take a closer look at the regulation, guidance, practice, and science of cultivating and planting on peaty soils. Watch this space.