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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Hanson support carbon sequestration field trial

The Carbon Community

World-first project aims to determine whether basalt can accelerate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere

CRUSHED basalt donated from Hanson’s Builth Wells Quarry in Powys, Wales, is being used in a field trial to measure the impact it can have on removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

The world-first project by The Carbon Community, a charity dedicated to creating forests and accelerating carbon removal, aims to define a new reforestation approach to accelerate and enhance the sequestration of CO2 in trees and soil and improve biodiversity.

During May, more than 25,000 trees were planted on 11ha just outside the Brecon Beacons, in Wales. The project will assess the effects of using live soils from nearby forests to reintroduce microbes and organisms to increase tree survival rates as well as enhanced rock weathering (ERW) on carbon sequestration.

ERW takes crushed basalt, a by-product of quarrying, and applies it to the soil to capture CO2 and provide essential nutrients to fertilize trees and the fungi in the soil that support tree growth. It is a method that has proven successful in sugar beet and pea crops.

Charles Nicholls, co-founder of The Carbon Community, said: ‘Reforestation is one of the most powerful tools we have to combat climate breakdown. The addition of crushed basalt releases nutrients into the soil and the chemical reactions that cause the rock particles to break down lock in CO2, thereby removing it from the atmosphere.’

The study is being run in partnership with leading scientists from ETH Zürich Crowther Lab; Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield; The Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London; and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Over the first two years, the project will measure the carbon stored in the trees and soil, and the results will identify the combination of treatments where the most carbon has been sequestered. The Carbon Community then aims to scale up this reforestation method to accelerate and enhance carbon removal from the atmosphere.

Marian Garfield, sustainability director at Hanson UK, said: ‘Hanson are focused on climate protection and carbon reduction and enhancing biodiversity net gain are two of our key 2030 commitments.

‘We are excited to be involved with this project, which aims to determine whether basalt can accelerate the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in the creation of new woodland and could, therefore, potentially play a vital role in helping tackle the climate crisis.’

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