Many ecosystems sequester more carbon in the soil than in above-ground vegetation

In their article, the authors criticise another article which recently appeared in Science by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. According to that article, global tree planting could compensate for 205 gigatons of carbon, or one third of all carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution.

In their criticism, the new group writes that the Swiss research has serious flaws which led to overestimating the potential of new tree planting for mitigating climate change by a factor of five. Among other assumptions, the original study assumed that soils in treeless ecosystems do not contain carbon, although many ecosystems such as savannas and peat bogs sequester more carbon in the soil than in above-ground vegetation.

The new group further criticises that the original study also neglected the fact that conifers in moderate cold climate zones and high-altitude regions absorb more sunlight and emit more heat than treeless areas, so that they increase global warming rather than reducing it.