Carbon compensation in peatlands
By planting trees peatlands become a carbon sink, instead of emitting significant emissions. The amount of offset carbon dioxide per tree is close to 600 kg. This article is a summary of the original report, which you can download here.
In the early years of afforestation, the soil is a source of carbon, until the litter produced by growing trees and the growth of biomass cause the soil to become a carbon sink 27 years after afforestation. In a forested area, with a rotation period of 100 years, the accumulation of the total carbon stock in the soil is negative. However, the carbon bound by the tree biomass offsets the carbon emissions of the soil so that at the end of the rotation period, the net carbon stock is 63 t C/ha. At the end of the rotation period, the carbon emission of the former peatlands would be 260 t/ha without afforestation. The carbon compensation accomplished by afforestation, calculated on the basis of the average growth of trees, is 323.6 t C/ha.
The calculation is based on a 100-year tree growing period, during which an area of 1 ha of former peatlands reforested for pine absorbs a total of 323.6 tons of carbon to the soil and trees compared to previous land use. When the planting density is 2,000 seedlings/hectare, the share of one planted seedling is 161.8 kg of offset carbon over 100 years.
The absorbed carbon is converted into carbon dioxide by a factor of 3.67 (the molecular ratio of carbon dioxide and carbon is 44/12=3.67), whereupon the amount of absorbed carbon dioxide is 594 kg per seedling over 100 years.
If a person’s annual carbon footprint is 10,000 kg of carbon dioxide and one seedling absorbs 594 kg of carbon dioxide, 17 planted trees (10,000/594=17) are needed to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused. In other words, the 17 seedlings we planted absorb, on average, over 100 years, as much carbon as the carbon footprint caused by one person in one year.
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