Mixed Forests Store 70% More Carbon Than Monocultures

Forest beside lake Bouchard. La Mauricie National Park mixed forest

The fight against climate change involves trees. The more there are, the more carbon in the atmosphere is absorbed. However, researchers from the University of Oxford warn in the conclusion of a meta-study published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. Plantations need to be thoughtful to promote the development of mixed forests. And for a good reason: “Diverse planted forests store more carbon than monocultures – upwards of 70%” asserts the lead author, Emily Warner, a researcher in ecology and biodiversity sciences, in a press release. The benefits do not stop there, as they also resist pests, diseases, and climate disturbances, enhancing their long-term carbon storage potential.

Four-Species Mixes: the Nec Plus Ultra

However, not all mixed forests are equal; according to these scientists, mixes of four species would be the most effective carbon sinks. Forests with two species would capture “only” 35% more CO2 than monocultures, and forests with six species would have comparable results to monocultures! These striking results, however, are limited by the small number of studies on mixed forests. Nevertheless, they pave the way for further exploration of the topic.

Featured Image: An example of temperate broadleaf and mixed forest in La Mauricie National Park, Quebec, Wikimedia.