Ask me (almost) anything, January 2022

Jan 11, 2022

Mark was recently asked: “Do trees / plants store the same amounts of CO2, regardless of where they are on the globe?”

Mark’s response is that it is a bit complicated and can be confusing to those of us who just want a quick answer to the question.

1. Oceans accumulate 75% of all carbon sequestered (stored) around the globe. They do this by dissolving the gas in water, especially in the tropics with warmer water. They also trap huge amounts of CO2 in algae and plankton growth.

2. On land, the type of plant determines the amount of carbon locked in tissues – grass accumulate CO2 the fastest. But grass release CO2 the fastest when they die each season. For annual plants, some water weeds, rushes, and hemp also store CO2 at very fast rates.

3. The fastest perennial accumulator is Bamboo (also a grass, in tropical, warm high rainfall environments).

4. Perennial trees lock up the most CO2 by weight, because they produce the largest biomass over time and keep growing the longest.

5. The older the trees (size and mass) the more carbon can be captured as they age.
A new study shows that old, big trees absorb carbon faster:

There are carbon calculators which can give us an indication. For example, the Sydney Calculator averages out the CO2 capture rates for warm temperate environments – tropics will be faster, cold temperate will be slower.

However, Mark advises that the Sydney calculator is a plug-and-play calculator: three variables in a box, presto the answer! It indicates a general picture for lay people.

All other methods Mark has seen require a level of technical competency, and not simply a ‘tick the box’ format.

Thank you for educating us, Mark! This gives us a better understanding of how we can make a positive impact by planting and preserving.


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