Carbon Sequestration & Climate Change Mitigation

Some data from various sources on Carbon Sequestration capabilities of trees (in the tropics):

Research and evidence demonstrates that in a tropical climate a tree will sequester a minimum of around 25kg of CO² per year for a useful life span of 40 years, i.e. 1000 KG per tree planted in its 40 year useful lifetime. (Source:

The average carbon content in a tree is generally 50% of the tree’s total volume, so to estimate the weight of carbon in a tree, multiply the dry weight of the tree by 50%. CO² is composed of one molecule of Carbon and 2 molecules of Oxygen. (Source:

A mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year. In one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. (Source:

Tropical forests have a valuable role in relation to climate change, being a source and sink of carbon. This paper reviews the state of knowledge on carbon stocks and rate of sequestration of various forest ecosystems in the Philippines. Carbon density ranges widely from less than 5 t/ha to more than 200 t/ha in the following order: old growth forests > secondary forest > mossy forest > mangrove forest > pine forest > tree plantation > agroforestry farm > brushlands > grasslands. Carbon sequestration ranges from less than 1 t/ha/yr in natural forests to more than 15 t/ha/yr in some tree plantations. Land-use change and forestry make an important contribution in the national emissions and sinks. It is estimated that Philippine forest lands are a net sink of greenhouse gasses (GHG) absorbing 107 Mt CO² equivalent in 1998, about equal to the total Philippine GHG emissions. (Source:

Climate Change Mitigation as an Environmental Service

The basic concept behind this service is that trees are able to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Part of the carbon absorbed becomes part of the biomass. In general, tress compose 50 per cent carbon based on oven dry weight. In addition to trees, there are other carbon pools in a forest ecosystem: soil, litter, and understorey vegetation.

There are three ways by which forest ecosystems can help mitigate climate change:

  1. conservation of existing carbon stocks: The goal of this strategy is to maintain or improve existing carbon pools in forests by protecting forest reserves, by the use of appropriate silvicultural practices and by controlling deforestation. Tropical forest ecosystems contain substantial amount of carbon. Activities that destroy forests, such as slash-and-burn farming, logging and conversion to other land uses (deforestation), could significantly reduce the stored carbon in the forest.
  2. expansion of carbon stocks by increased carbon sequestration, and substitution of wood products: The goal of this strategy is to expand the amount
    of carbon stored in forest ecosystems by increasing the area and/or carbon density of natural and plantation forests and increasing storage in durable wood products. Since carbon sequestration is a function of biomass accumulation, the simplest way to expand carbon stocks is to plant trees.
  3. Substitution of wood products for fossil fuels-based products: Substitution aims at increasing the transfer of forest biomass carbon into products (e.g. construction materials and biofuels) that can replace fossil-fuel based energy and products, cement-based products and other building materials (Brown et al. 1996). This approach is considered to have the greatest mitigation potential in the long term (>50 years). For instance, the substitution of wood grown in plantations for coal in power generation can avoid carbon emissions by an amount up to four times that of carbon sequestered in the plantation (Brown et al. 1996).

See the full study here:

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