Planted or Un-Planted, Manmade Wetlands Make Good Carbon Sinks - New Research Shows How
photo: Dean Forbes via flickr
Restoring wetlands is great way to reestablish natural carbon sinks--a low-risk geoengineering method--and reap the benefits of the ecosystem services they provide. Now researchers from Ohio State University have demonstrated that after 15 years, it doesn't matter if those wetlands were planted by humans or if they were left to be naturally re-colonized by plants and animals, both serve as effective carbon sinks.Planted Wetlands Stored More Carbon After 15 Years
After tracking the progress of two experimental wetland plots on campus--part of the Wilma H Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park--the researchers found, "the two wetlands contained nearly the same number of plant species, and their rates of retaining phosphorus and nitrates--nutrients that can become potential water contaminants--were almost identical. Both wetlands also [held] carbon in their soil, with this carbon sink function increasing steadily over the years."
The researchers predicted that both wetlands' ability to store carbon would increase over a 50 year period. After 15 years, the planted wetland stored 200 grams of carbon per square meter. The naturally planted wetland stored 140 grams, likely because the the planted wetland had higher biomass production.
For more of the details on the comparative ecology of the two wetlands, check out Physorg. This is statement from William Mitsch, director of the Wetland Research park, sums it all up:
I think wetlands' value as carbon sinks is gigantic, but it is still under-appreciated. This study and other work we've done suggests that wetlands can be cost-effective tools to reduce the effects of carbon emissions while they perform their other ecosystem functions, such as water quality improvement and flood control.
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