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Carbon Sequestration

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with farming organisations on the use of farmland for carbon sequestration. (106296)

While carbon sequestration by forestry is a useful tool for offsetting some greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration in cropland and pasture through new management practices is less certain. This is because new management practices have to be followed for a substantial period of time in order to record additional carbon storage. Also, several years of stored carbon could be released by a change of practice in just one season.

A more important issue is protecting the 10 billion tonnes of carbon held in UK soils, especially upland peat soils, from release through soil erosion and inappropriate management practices such as over-grazing. For example, allowing the peat soils of the High Peak to dry out would alone release carbon equivalent to 270 million vehicle miles.

Defra is undertaking research to understand fully the issues on sequestration and protection of carbon stores. We are considering how to ensure agri-environment measures address this problem and are engaging with stakeholders, notably through the Rural Climate Change Forum, to ensure full understanding between the Government and industry on this problem.