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  • Researchers from the University of Oviedo quantify the CO2 that can be absorbed by the ten most common species of trees from the Atlantic forests

    September 26, 2013

    Forest Engineers from the Polytechnical School of Mieres study the influence of Asturian and Galician forests in fighting climate change

    Forest Engineers from the University of Oviedo study the influence of Asturian and Galician forests in fighting climate change

    A team of researchers from the University of Oviedo has constructed mathematical models that allow them to determine how much carbon dioxide can be absorbed by the ten most common species of trees in the Atlantic forests. The conclusions of the research, conducted by Javier Castaño, Pedro Álvarez y Marcos Barrio, have just been published in the prestigious journal International Forestry Review and allow the specialists to establish guidelines to reach a more efficient and better-plannified management of the forest.

    The research conducted by the Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems -GIS Forest- (Department of Biology of Organisms and Systems), in collaboration with the Mixed Unit of Research on Biodiversity of the CSIC, is the result of a large-scale field work conducted in the forests of Asturias and Galicia for the past few years. The researchers have managed to establish mathematical models that, depending on different factors, may calculate how much CO2 is absorbed by a forest composed by a determined species.

    The article compiles the formulae applicable to the ten most common species of the North-East of the country. Some of them, which had been created previously, have been readjusted, and others have been calculated for the first time, such as that of the chestnut (Castanea sativa), the celtiberian birch (Betula pubescens), the beech (Fagus sylvatica) and three species from the Quercus genus (Quercus petraea, Q. pyrenaica and Q. robur).

    In order to calculate how much carbon dioxide each of these species absorbs, the models have to take into account the environmental conditions in which the trees are found, the density of the existing forest, the regeneration that has taken place in the area or the forestry treatments applied or planned. The levels of absorpsion of the same species may change depending of these variables.

    The great forests of Asturias and Galicia act as important drains of carbon dioxide that may noticeably influence the fight against climate change.

    Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS Forest), directed by Doctor Pedro Álvarez, has confirmed that the species with a quick growth, such as the eucalyptus, may be used as quick solutions for cases like energy cultivation in need of producing biomass fast, but also acting as efficient drains of CO2 in the short term. Nevertheless, the species with slow growth, like the oak or the birch, even with low rates of growth, play this role for a longer period of time, and thus they are prefered in environmental conditions that are not optimal for faster-growing species.

    The models created and the conclusions reached by the research facilitate the plannification and management of the great forests of the North-East of the country since they also establish the level of production of biomass of the most common species. This data is vital for making decisions such as defining the forestry actions that are needed in each area or determining what species is more adequate to repopulate a certain area of the mountain range.

    Authors

    Javier Castaño-Santamaría

    Marcos Barrio-Anta

    Pedro Álvarez-Álvarez

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