Achieving national scale targets for carbon sequestration through afforestation : Geospatial assessment of feasibility and policy implications

Burke, Thomas and Rowland, Clare S. and Whyatt, Duncan and Blackburn, Alan and Abbatt, Jonathan (2021) Achieving national scale targets for carbon sequestration through afforestation : Geospatial assessment of feasibility and policy implications. Environmental Science and Policy, 124. pp. 279-292. ISSN 1462-9011

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To explore the feasibility of meeting recently proposed large-scale tree planting targets, a UK wide assessment of land available for afforestation was carried out, considering a range of physical, environmental and policy constraints in three hypothetical planting scenarios. Results show there is sufficient space to meet these targets in all three scenarios, even if planting is prevented on good to moderate quality agricultural land and within protected areas. However, this would require planting on a large proportion of unconstrained land, especially for the more ambitious targets, which is unevenly distributed across the UK. This would limit opportunities for spatially targeting woodland creation, which may restrict the provision of additional ecosystem services such as air pollution control and recreation, and induce widespread negative impacts on landscapes and communities. In order to overcome these limitations, relaxing constraints, such as permitting afforestation of higher quality agricultural land, will need to be considered. Meeting many of the proposed afforestation targets would result in a transformational change in British land cover, which could replace or significantly impact the business models of tens of thousands of farms, and see the replacement of hundreds of thousands to millions of hectares of grassland, arable and horticultural land and other land covers. This would require rates of planting that far exceed those seen historically. Policies and mechanisms that could be used to encourage this planting, both by the state and private sectors, are discussed.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environmental Science and Policy
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Environmental Science and Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Environmental Science and Policy, 124, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2021.06.023
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? afforestationecosystem servicessuitability mappingconstraintssite selectionwoodlandnatural capitalpolicy developmentmanagement, monitoring, policy and lawgeography, planning and development ??
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Deposited On:
13 Jul 2021 13:50
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:47