Leitrim contains lots of natural carbon sinks. Forests, hedgerows and bogs contribute to sequestering more than 200,000 tons of CO2 per year.
A natural carbon sink is a habitat full of plants that, thanks to photosynthesis, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In time, carbon literally sinks into the soil where it remains locked for ages if the land is not disturbed.
So, carbon sinks are a natural mitigation remedy for the Climate Crisis.
Major carbon sinks in Leitrim are its forests, sequestering more than 190,000 tons CO2 per year. This equates to 6.3 tons CO2 removed per hectare of forestland per year, a very high rate. However, due to the species composition and commercial function of Leitrim forests, most of that carbon doesn’t enrich the soil, remaining locked into timber. Furthermore, commercial monocultures are biodiversity-poor zones.
On the other hand, while not being as effective at carbon sequestration as forests, old bogs store more than 75% of soil organic carbon in their peat soils, also providing a unique habitat for many species, as well as water cycle regulation. It’s unfortunate that many bogs in Leitrim are not in good health and only 20% (8000 hectares) are under the protected area network.
Hedgerows in Leitrim grow wild and untamed (most of the time, when they are not brutally cut away). Their plants absorb at least 21,800 tons CO2 per year (but it could be well over 30,000). They are crucial in land management operations and provide a habitat for hundreds of insect and bird species.
This research was part of our Cróga initiative – Carbon Resilient Opportunities for Generations – Discover more about it here.