31 Jul 2013:
Desert Tree Plantings
Could Lower Atmospheric CO2 Levels
The large-scale planting of jatropha trees in the world’s arid regions could help reduce atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide
, a new study says. Using computer models and data from plantations in Egypt, India, and Madagascar, a team of German scientists calculated that plantations of the durable, scrubby
jatropha — which can also be used as a biofuel — could capture 17 to 25 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare annually. Jatropha is particularly suited for so-called “carbon farming” because it can grow in hot, dry regions where the soil is unsuitable for food crops, according to the study, published in the journal Earth System Dynamics
. In addition, the researchers estimate that there are about 1 billion hectares of “unused and marginal” land suitable for cultivating such tree plantations. Since jatropha trees do require some water, the authors suggest they should be planted near coastal regions where desalinated seawater could be accessible. “Nature does it better, if we understand and can make use of it in a sustainable manner,” said Volker Wulfmeyer, one of the authors of the study. The cost of carbon farming ranges from 42 to 63 euros per ton of carbon dioxide, making it competitive with other CO2 reduction technologies, the study says.