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Woodland planting on UK pasture land is not economically feasible, yet is more profitable than some traditional farming practices


Increasing ecosystem service provision is a key strategy of the UK’s ongoing agricultural and environmental policy reforms. Enhancing forest cover by 4%, particularly on the least productive agricultural land, aims to maximise carbon sequestration and achieve net zero by 2050. Multiple factors affect the sequestration potential of afforestation schemes and landowner participation in them, highlighting the need for spatially explicit research. We used the InVEST Carbon Model to investigate the Loddon Catchment, southeast England as a study area. We assessed the carbon sequestration potential and economic feasibility of three broadleaved woodland planting scenarios; arable, pasture, and stakeholder-approved (SA) scenario. We found that over a 50-year time horizon, woodland planting on arable land has the greatest sequestration potential (4.02 tC ha−1 yr−1), compared to planting on pasture land (3.75 tC ha−1 yr−1). When monetising carbon sequestration at current market rates, woodland planting on agricultural land incurs a loss across all farm types. However, when including the value of unpaid labour, lowland pasture farms presently incur a greater loss (−€285.14 ha−1 yr−1) than forestry (−€273.16 ha−1 yr−1), making forestry a more economical land use. Subsidising up to the social value of carbon (€342.23 tC−1) significantly reduces this loss and may make afforestation of pasture land more appealing to farmers. Woodland planting on lowland pasture land would increase forest cover by up to 3.62%. However, due to the influence of farmer attitudes on participation, it is more realistic for afforestation to occur on lowland pasture land in the SA scenario, equating to a 0.74% increase.

Calendario de la edición:
4 veces al año
Temas de la revista:
Ciencias de la vida, Botánica, Ecología, otros