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Species-rich forests store more carbon

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A study across 27 subtropical forest stands in China has found more evidence that species-rich forests cycle carbon faster but store more carbon overall. Extrapolating their results across a wider area, the researchers suggest an additional US$300 million worth of carbon could have been sucked from the atmosphere each year if afforestation projects had planted multiple species instead of monocultures.

Journal/conference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Organisation/s: University of Zurich, Switzerland

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests

A large team of researchers measured carbon stocks and fluxes in 27 subtropical forest stands. They found that species-rich stands had faster carbon cycling but also stored more carbon in above- and belowground ecosystem compartments including trees, roots, litter, deadwood and soil than did species-poor stands. These results imply that across China additional carbon worth 300 million Dollars per year could have been fixed from the atmosphere — thereby increasing contributions to combat global warming — if multi-species instead of monoculture planting would have been used in afforestation projects. A change in planting strategies would simultaneously contribute to preserving forest biodiversity.

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