Capturing carbon

The Dyfi estuary. Credit Janet Baxter

The Dyfi estuary. Credit Janet Baxter

24 May 2012

The management of the Welsh uplands to conserve historic stocks of carbon and future carbon storage whilst promoting economic development will be discussed by scientists, conservationists, land managers and economists at Aberystwyth University on Friday 25 May.

The Land Use Climate Change Report presented to the Welsh Assembly Government in March 2010 estimated that around 500 million tonnes of carbon and up to 1.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide may be stored in Welsh soil.

This one day conference will discuss concerns that inappropriate management of the Welsh uplands, which account for 23% of Wales, coupled with climate warming, could lead to the release of potentially damaging greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.  

The conference is being organised by the Ecology Research Group at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth, with the support of the Natural Environment Research Council.

According to Dr Dylan Gwynn Jones, Senior Lecturer in Ecology at IBERS, Wales has a significant history in the global carbon economy.

“The industrial revolution was fuelled by Welsh coal and natural resources. Such human harnessing of resources and energy has traditionally been at the expense of the environment. However, now there is a clear focus that future development must be sustainable and low carbon,” said Dr Jones.

“Upland Wales was traditionally characterised by low input pastoral agriculture as the backbone of its economy. Other more recent uses have been tourism and renewable energies. However, alongside all these other elements and biodiversity value sits the precious resource of carbon that must be preserved for the future.

“This meeting will link the ecology and economy of upland Wales with its soil carbon resources. We will discuss future threats to these resources, including whether upland areas should be managed for carbon capture, particularly in light of future climate change.

“We will also debate whether policy drivers should be used to integrate carbon storage with the needs of biodiversity conservation. Further consideration will be given to the growing practice of countries valuing management of soil carbon stores in order to offset further carbon emissions.”

Organisations represented at the conference will include: Sustainable Uplands; The International Union for Conservation of Nature Peatlands Programme; Wales Biodiversity Partnership Uplands Group; National Trust; Forestry Commission; Welsh Government – Sustainable Futures; Countryside Council for Wales, RSPB, Wildlife Trust of S & W Wales; Bangor University; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster; Dulas; Lancaster University; University of Liverpool; Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.