The Carbon Community is delighted to announce our landmark carbon study.
The project aims to uncover a new reforestation approach, rooted in science, to accelerate and enhance the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in trees and soil to tackle the climate crisis.
The study is designed and run in partnership with leading scientists from ETH Zürich Crowther Lab; Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield; The Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London; and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
You can access our full Press Release here.
Over the first two years, the project will measure the carbon stored in the trees and soil, and the results will identify the combination of treatments where the most carbon has been sequestered. The Carbon Community aims to scale up this reforestation method to accelerate and enhance carbon removal from the atmosphere.
This large, careful piece of science combines two nature-based climate solutions in a field trial never previously deployed together at scale.
The project will will assess the combined effects of forest microbiome inoculation and the deployment of enhanced rock weathering, and their ability to accelerate and enhance forest carbon sequestration in conifer monoculture and mixed broadleaf forests.
More than 25,000 new trees have been planted on 11 hectares (28 acres) in Glandwr Forest, our site in Carmarthenshire, near the Brecon Beacons, Wales.
The Carbon Community field trial is the first of its kind and the results will be made freely available to other tree planting projects and environmental scientists.
The 72 test cell trial will study two types of forests: the first is comprised of native broadleaf species from Wales, including Birch, Alder, Cherry, Oak, Aspen and Rowan. The second type is a monoculture conifer forest comprising Sitka Spruce, typical of commercial forestry plantations.
These two types of forests will be compare to a control which will be left unplanted for natural regeneration.
This experiment will reintroducing soil microbial and mycorrhizal communities sourced from established forest ecosystems in an effort to jump start reforestation.
Studies continue to find that introduction of native soil communities can dramatically increase plant survival. (1) How these fungi may in turn affect tree seedling growth and survival rates and ecosystem carbon sequestration at scale remains unknown.
The study will look at Broadleaf Soil Inoculation and Conifer Soil Inoculation in two types of forest being studied.
Enhanced rock weathering takes crushed basalt, a mining by-product, and applies it to the soil to capture CO2 and provide essential nutrients to fertilize trees.
This is the first time that basalt addition is being studied in is a reforestation project at this scale. This method, proven in sugarbeet and pea crops, was recently hailed as one of the best near-term ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (2)
Basalt also contains nutrients that can stimulate mycorrhizal fungi and can support tree growth. (3) The study will look at the combinatorial impact of forest microbiome inoculation and enhanced rock weathering.
A recent study has called out the urgent need for real-world field trials on enhanced weathering and mycorrhizal fungi application.
“Mitigating climate change and increasing agricultural sustainability are twin challenges society faces in the upcoming decades. One measure that can contribute to reducing atmospheric CO2 is "enhanced weathering" through application of ground silicates. Here we propose that mycorrhizal fungi may critically contribute to the success of enhanced weathering in agricultural systems. Fundamental lab‐based experiments now need to go hand in hand with real‐world field trials, with the goal to optimize both decarbonization and environmental sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.” (4)
The study will look at 9 randomised test cells, replicated eight times across the site to allow for changes in microclimate and statistical validity.
Each of the planted cells will contain 400 trees of which 100 will be individually tagged and tracked.
Over the first two years, the project will measure the carbon stored in the trees and soil, and the results will identify the combination of treatments where the most carbon has been sequestered.
1. Wubs, E., van der Putten, W., Bosch, M. et al. Soil inoculation steers restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. Nature Plants 2, 16107 (2016).
2. Beerling, D.J., Kantzas, E.P., Lomas, M.R. et al. Potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands. Nature 583, 242–248 (2020).
3. Battles, J.J., Fahey, T.J., Driscoll, C.T., Blum, J.D. & Johnson, C.E. (2104). Restoring Soil Calcium Reverses Forest Decline. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., 1, 15–19.
4. Verbruggen, E., Struyf, E, Vicca, S. Can arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi speed up carbon sequestration by enhanced weathering?Plants, People, Planet (2021).