Australian scientists researching environmental restoration projects have found that the reforestation of damaged rainforests is more efficient at capturing carbon than controversial softwood monoculture plantations. The research, published in Ecological Management & Restoration, challenges traditional views on the efficiency of industrial monoculture plantations.
"Carbon markets have become a potential source of funding for restoration projects as countries and corporations seek the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions", said Dr John Kanowski from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. "However, there is a concern that this funding will encourage single species monoculture plantations instead of diverse reforestation projects, due to the widely held belief that monocultures capture more carbon."
Softwood monoculture plantations are grown for industrial purposes and are used as a cheap and abundant source of resources such as timber and rubber. However the plantations are highly controversial, with some ecologists describing the lack of diversity as a 'green desert'.
The team sought to test the belief that monoculture plantations would capture more carbon by studying three types of projects in north-eastern Australia: monoculture plantations of native conifers, mixed species plantations and rainforest restoration projects comprised of a diverse range of rainforest trees.
"We found that restoration planting stored significantly more carbon in above-ground biomass than the monoculture plantations of native conifers and tended to store more than mixed species timber plantations," said Kanowski. "Compared to the monoculture plantations reforestation projects were more densely stocked, there were more large trees and the trees which were used had a higher wood density then the conifers at the plantation."
These findings challenge the existing view of monoculture plantations. For example the Australian Gov
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