The ability of forests to store and sequester carbon is an established fact. Forests are of great significance in the global carbon cycle and the maintaining forests is vitally important when it comes to mitigating climate change. At national level, forests can contribute significantly through the maintenance of existing forests and the creation of new woodlands, but also through utilising wood products for energy and through displacing energy intensive products.

'In line with international reporting guidelines, Ireland estimates emissions and removals associated with the following land uses: Forest land, Cropland, Grassland, Wetlands, Settlements and Other land. Forest land currently plays a significant role as a carbon sink. Since 1990, Ireland’s forest area has expanded by approximately 290,000 ha. As these forests grow and mature, they represent an important CO2 sink and long-term carbon store in biomass and soil. However, low forest planting rates in recent years are a future risk in the terms of our national forest estate continuing to act as a significant carbon sink.'

'Ireland has a comparatively low forest cover despite climatic conditions that support rapid tree growth. There is strong policy interest in carbon sequestration through forestry expansion to offset agricultural GHG emissions, with an ambition to achieve 'carbon neutrality' in the AFOLU sector by 2050. National GHG mitigation from forestry expansion will also depend on long-term management of forests and harvested wood. Product substitution through use of harvested wood products for e.g. construction or bioenergy, could help mitigate emissions from other sectors of the economy, e.g. industry and power generation.'

Work is ongoing in establishing carbon accounting systems which will meet best international standards.

In Ireland, the Forest Carbon Tool is a step into that direction.

In the UK, the Woodland Carbon Code is an example of a voluntary standard for carbon accounting for woodland creation projects through independent verification and validation.

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This byproduct of heating biomass at very high temperatures in the absence of oxigen has been getting a lot of publicity in recent times, especially in light of its carbon sequestration benefits.

Research is being undertaken at home and abroad and it is believed that biochar could have the potential to generate income from forests while at the same time improving soils, reducing residue and storing carbon.

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