Carbon Sequestration through Pinus Radiata

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Carbon Sequestration through Pinus Radiata

There are two ways to deal with carbon emissions. To reduce emissions and to capture and store them.  

During the UN Convention in Paris on 4 November 2016, known as the Paris Agreement, all countries came together to contribute to reducing carbon emissions through their National determined contributions or NDCs (The Paris Agreement, 2019).

Noah Deich, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal in Oakland, California, says, “we can’t just decarbonise our economy, or we won’t meet our carbon goal.” In 2015, human-generated C02 emissions were around 40 gigatons; a gigaton, abbreviated Gt, is a billion metric tons or 0.67 billion tons (Hoff, 2017).

Deich’s statement is obvious and realistic. It’s impossible not to emit carbon, but it is possible to reduce emissions and capture and store them. There are already emerging carbon capture technologies ready to use soon. But then there are low-technology and low-regret ones that can be applied immediately.

Pete Smith, chair in plant and soil science at the University of Aberdeen, says in the EcoWatch article that it’s almost impossible that we would hit 2C or even less 1.5C without some negative emissions technology. The report also cites scientists’ creating a plan to keep warming below 2C that strongly depends on reducing carbon emissions and ‘actively’ removing CO2 from the atmosphere (Hoff, 2019).

Hoff (2017) enumerated ways to sequester carbon. Six of the eight methods involve using plants or vegetation to capture and store carbon, and only two do not work in any way: Rock solutions and Direct air capture and Storage

You can read Hoff’s article by clicking on the link below:

Meanwhile, the Newsroom article, “The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air”, highlighted the ability of a certain pine species, Pinus Radiata, to capture carbon from the atmosphere.

Below are some of the discussions from the Newsroom article that Eloise Gibson wrote:

  • Although unpopular in some communities, Radiata can rapidly sequester carbon in the air and grows like ‘weeds.’
  • This pine species is a native of Monterey, California and was brought to New Zealand. These pines are thriving, a phenomenon is known as the ‘exotic species effect’, Euan Mason, a professor at the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry, says. It happens when an exotic species is brought into a new habitat minus the endemic pests from the soils it used to live in, Mason adds.
  • Although the Pinus Radiata has real potential to absorb and reduce carbon in the atmosphere, looking solely at this plant’s ability to sequester carbon is not the best approach to the problem.
  • Pinus Radiata, a much-loved tree by commercial foresters, has become New Zealand’s wood crop after most ancient Kauri forests were destroyed by logging in the 1880s. Mason says it was pillaging.
  • He adds that if New Zealand wants to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2050, one thing that would hold the country back is if it continues to plant native species.
  • It’s not only carbon sequestration that we should focus on, says Pia Pohatu, a researcher from the Waro Project. Pohatu says that the apparent focus on carbon sequestration is simply an excuse for us to continue to emit CO2. Instead, we should also protect the native species and its heritage.
  • Gerard Horgan, a trustee of Tāne’s Tree Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering indigenous tree species, said that the ‘trust charts’ shows that Radiata pine surpasses carbon sequestrations of other native trees like Rimu, Totara, and other native shrubs up to 80 years. Horgan adds that what makes New Zealand New Zealand is that it values its obligation to protect and look after its native flora and fauna. But if the only motivation for planting trees is carbon sequestration, then we’d be planting for fast-growing and medium-rotation age exotics.
  • But then there is another option: Radiata Pine and native trees can grow and thrive together. Adam Forbes, researcher and consultant, said that farmers could use Radiata Pine to protect the native forest by acting as a canopy and shelter, allowing native trees to be established.
  • Forbes has been studying what would happen if the pine is planted and then left in the ground and eventually replaced naturally by native forest as this could get the maximum carbon benefit from the pine while also allowing the native forest to be established, such as Totara trees.

Farmers can forgo harvesting timber in favour of harvesting carbon and enjoying the benefits of trees, says Tim Payn, a Research Leader on forest systems at Scion. He says that farmers can get more than just carbon and timber from the forest but also cleaner water, better stream biodiversity, and a potential wildlife corridor (Gibson, 2019).

To know more about the benefits of planting Pinus Radiata and its ability to sequester carbon, click on the button below:


The Paris Agreement (2019). United National Climate Change. Retrieved from

Hoff, M. (2017, July 19). 8 Ways to Sequester Carbon. EcoWatch. Retrieved from

Gibson, E. (2019, September 9). The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air. Newsroom article. Retrieved from

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