Forest carbon farms “cheap” climate change option

Cattle fields in the western Andes should be converted to carbon “farms” – that is, forests – to cut carbon emissions, researchers said yesterday. Academics in the UK and Norway […]

Register now!

By Vicky Ellis

Cattle fields in the western Andes should be converted to carbon “farms” – that is, forests – to cut carbon emissions, researchers said yesterday.

Academics in the UK and Norway including the University of Sheffield found farmers could make the same or more money growing carbon instead of herding cows.

Lead researcher Dr James Gilroy from the University of East Anglia’s school of Environmental Sciences carried out the research while at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences said: “If these areas were instead allowed to regenerate to forest, then significant amounts of carbon dioxide would be captured from the atmosphere.

Livestock in the Brazilian Amazon. Image: Thinkstock
Livestock in the Brazilian Amazon. Image: Thinkstock

“Biodiversity would also be restored, improving habitats for many species at risk of extinction – all at minimal cost. It’s a win-win situation.”

Dr David Edwards, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences added: “The economic benefits of cattle farming are minimal, so this is a way farmers could make the same, if not more money. The land would be rented off farmers for 30 years and they would be paid for the carbon grown.

“We studied older forests that are around 20-30 years old and found they had recovered around half of the carbon of a really mature forest. More carbon comes back every single year and as it does so, large numbers of highly threatened species return.”