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Wise land use solutions bring considerable climate benefits

News 2020-12-21 at 10:44
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Municipalities and regions can cut back their climate emissions and strengthen their carbon sinks through climate-friendly agriculture and forestry practices and land use solutions. The most recent publications by the Canemure product compile the best practices of the land use sector.

“The measures of the land use sector play an increasingly vital role in the carbon neutrality efforts of Finland and its municipalities and regions. The topic is new and practical tips are in order. Despite some uncertainty, we are aware of the major and minor factors in terms of impact, which means that now is the time to protect the climate,” says Professor Jyri Seppälä, Director of the Canemure project at the Finnish Environment Institute.

Forestry practices play a key role

The fastest way to increase forest carbon sinks is to extend the average growing period of forests and reduce felling. In the long term, increasing the forest area is highly efficient. The improvement of tree species and the planting of quickly growing trees can increase the growth of the forest in the medium term. Some of the carbon collected from the forest remains in the wood products, such as wooden buildings, for decades.

In peatland, the soil is a much larger carbon store than trees, which is why the measures affecting the soil are more important than in mineral soil. Emissions can be reduced by avoiding needlessly efficient drying, favouring a constant cover of vegetation in the management of sewer catchment forests and through recovery efforts.

Climate work in agriculture benefits the farmer as well

Most of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture come from the soil, and peat fields have the most considerable potential for reducing emissions. In fact, avoiding land clearing in peatland is crucial in the efforts to reduce emissions.

Good cultivation practices also benefit the farmer. Tending to organic material in the soil and making the fertilisation process more precise improves the condition of the soil and prevents the nutrients from being flushed out while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Farms can become self-sufficient in their energy needs by burning biomass, producing biogas and using solar energy.

Changes in land use have long-term effects

In the changing land use, it is important to ensure that the new form of use binds more or releases less carbon into the atmosphere compared to the previous form of use.

Forest areas should not be reduced as the emissions impact of deforestation is similar to that of fossil fuels. Reforestation of treeless areas can reinforce carbon sinks and reduce emissions. Agricultural use of peatland must not be increased as it expedites the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Reforestation of peat fields is an excellent way of cutting back emissions.

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