heal the land | heal nature | heal ourselves
Rewilding helps fight climate change
Photo credit: Timjphillips / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)
Rewilding and climate change
Rewilding is a way to help climate change and the climate emergency is one of the reasons we set up Heal.
In its report on rewilding and climate breakdown, Rewilding Britain sets out a powerful and authoritative case for the restoration of natural processes to sequester carbon.
The 2018 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is unequivocal: we have to cut the emissions caused by human activity. There must be a net reduction of 45% by 2030 if we are to stop the planet warming by more than 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels.
It isn't enough to just reduce emissions - we also have to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere
Vegetation captures carbon (as carbon dioxide, CO2) using the most powerful existing carbon capture technology there is on earth - photosynthesis. Plants grow using food they make from sunlight and CO2. That process, photosynthesis, produces sugars and the best waste product imaginable: oxygen.
To put this in terms of our plans for a single site, where former grazing land is going through succession to becoming forest, 0.37 tonnes of carbon is absorbed per hectare per year.* On a 200ha site, that would be approximately 74 tonnes of carbon sequestered annually. An average car on the road in the UK emits 3.62 tonnes of CO2 a year.**
Healthy, biodiverse soils also capture increasing amounts of carbon.
The good news is that the Government agrees with the value of natural habitat restoration as a contributor: in a 2018, the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) issued a report on land use and climate change, which noted (p 22) that 'using land released from agriculture for carbon sequestration and restoring natural habitats can deliver deep emissions reduction by 2050'.
People are naturally concerned about food security. The CCC report addresses this as a key issue. We support Rewilding Britain's summary of the CCC report position, which is that releasing land for natural habitats could be done without compromising overall food production, if combined with measures to improve farm productivity and encourage healthy eating. Reducing the food waste figure of 30% during production and consumption also needs to be tackled.
Woodland plantations have gained popularity recently as a means to tackle the climate crisis, however they offer little help to our biodiversity crisis. Not only will Heal's sites capture carbon through natural regeneration of trees/scrub and restoration of soil, but they will also support a diverse range of habitats and species.
* Dawson and Smith, 2007