What can existing datasets tell us about the ability of Scotland's soils to store carbon?

Scottish Government
December 20, 2021

There is an increasing awareness that soils may be used to sequester (store) carbon and contribute to the Scottish Government’s targets to achieve net-zero by 2040. 

The Scottish Government has prioritised actions to improve carbon sequestration in the land use sector within its current Climate Change Plan.

While much of the focus has been on the ability of trees to sequester carbon above-ground, there is also an acknowledgement that agricultural land management can play a part in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

To help understand the potential for Scotland's soils to sequester carbon, researchers at the James Hutton Institute have critically evaluated existing datasets to ascertain how far they can answer the following questions:

  • how much carbon is stored in Scottish soils and where?
  • how much carbon is stored in soils under different land uses?
  • how has Scotland’s soil carbon content changed over time?
  • what is the potential for Scotland’s soils to gain or lose carbon and what are the likely land use drivers of this change?

Find out more: Soil organic carbon sequestration: scoping study​

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