Streamside forests top the scales for carbon storage

Restoring forests is an important strategy for climate change management, and in recent years we have seen a global effort working towards forest restoration.  The carbon storage potential of forests, particularly streamside forests, is often overlooked.  In November 2018, however, researchers released findings following an intensive compilation and analysis of carbon storage data from 117 reports, publications and data sets looking at streamside forests around the world. Crucially, they found that the average amount of carbon stored in mature streamside forests rivals the highest estimates for any other forest type around the world.

Researchers found that the average amount of carbon stored in mature streamside forest rivals the highest estimates for any other forest type around the world, such as tropical or boreal forests. These estimates vary depending on climate, but the average values for mature streamside forests range from 168 to 390 tons of carbon per acre in the trees alone.

Researchers also found that, on average, soil carbon can be expected to more than triple when converting from an unforested site to a mature streamside forest. However, as with other forest types, it can take decades for these changes to go into full effect, on the order of 40-90 years for the carbon stored in trees (depending on climate) and more than 115 years for soil carbon.

“One of the most important things we found was that actively restoring forests by planting trees jump-starts this process,” said Dr. Dybala one of the researchers working on the study. “If you look at two forests, one planted and one regenerating naturally, the restored forest gains carbon in the trees at more than twice the rate of the naturally regenerating forests over the first ten years. After that point, however, the total amount of carbon stored is comparable.”

This finding drives home the important role of restoring degraded streamside forests as a climate mitigation strategy.  In addition, we know that restoring streamside ecosystems also benefits water quality, habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreational opportunities.

We might also be planting seeds of future careers.  Photo Siwan Lovett

At Rivers of Carbon we are delighted that research like these findings support our goal of protecting and restoring streamside (riparian) ecosystems as we know the host of benefits these ecosystems provide.  If you want to learn  more about why streamside forests are so important, you can go to the resources pages on the Australian River Restoration Centre website and access more information, or head on over to our projects page to find out what RoC is doing to restore riparian vegetation in your local area, and how you can get involved!

Read the original article on ScienceDaily,