Achieving ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 is a statutory requirement for the UK and England. It will require major changes in the way we manage the land, coast, and sea, alongside decarbonisation of the energy, transport and other sectors. The natural environment can play a vital role in tackling the climate crisis as healthy ecosystems take up and store a significant amount of carbon in soils, sediments and vegetation. Alongside many other negative impacts, the destruction and degradation of natural habitats has resulted in the direct loss of carbon stored within them. Restoring natural systems can start to reverse this damage at the same time as supporting and enhancing biodiversity, alongside delivering co-benefits for climate change adaptation, soil health, water management and society. This Natural England Research Report reviews the scientific evidence base relating to carbon storage and sequestration by semi-natural habitats, in relation to their condition and/or management.
In this report we:
• Review the available evidence and summarise the carbon storage and sequestration rates of different semi-natural habitats with an indication of the range of values and the degree of confidence we can place in them.
• Facilitate the comparison of carbon storage and sequestration rates between semi-natural habitats.
• Apply evidence to England. Our main focus has been on evidence gathered on British ecosystems, but we have also included studies from other regions, particularly north west Europe, where they are relevant and helpful.
• Identify key evidence gaps in order to highlight where there is need for future research to support land use and land management decisions for carbon.
• Provide those working in land management, conservation and policy with relevant information required to underpin decisions relating carbon in semi-natural habitats.