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Researchers demonstrate China’s national key ecological restoration project bring about considerable carbon sequestration effects
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Update time: 2018-04-18
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The latest research of Working Group “Carbon Sequestration Assessment of National Key Ecological Restoration Projects”, Strategic Priority Programme of Chinese Academy of Sciences (led by the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences CAS, and in cooperation with Institute of Applied Ecology CAS, Northwest A&F University, Wuhan Botanical Garden CAS, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research CAS, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology CAS and Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences and a series of other institutional affiliations) revealed that China’s national key ecological restoration projects significantly enhanced the carbon storage of the ecosystem in the project area, promoted the carbon sink function and brought about considerable carbon sequestration effects. Their findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 

At the turn of the century, China has launched six key national ecological restoration projects to protect its environment and restore degraded ecosystems, i.e., Natural Forest Protection Project, Grain for Green Program, Three-North Shelter Forest Program 4th term, Yangtze River and Zhujiang River Shelter Forest Projects 2nd term, Beijing-Tianjin Sand Source Control Project and Returning Grazing Land to Grassland Project. Recent studies have indicated that the implementation of the national ecological restoration projects has improved ecosystem services. However, the vital total C sequestration benefit arising from the six key restoration projects has not yet been systematically evaluated. The working group conducted a large-scale field investigation and a literature survey of biomass and soil C in China’s forest, shrubland and grassland ecosystems across the regions where the six projects were implemented (~16% of the country’s land area), and investigated the changes in the C stocks of these ecosystems to evaluate the contributions of the projects to the country’s C sink between 2001 and 2010. Over this decade, it was estimated that the carbon stock of ecosystem in the project region increased by 1.5 Pg C (1 Pg = 1015 g) with a total annual C sink of 132 Tg C/yr (1 Tg = 1012 g), which is equivalent to 50-70% of the national total annual sink from all major terrestrial ecosystems in China and could offset 9.4% of China’s annual C emissions from fuel combustion during the 2000s. In addition, over half of this carbon sink (74 Tg C/yr, 56%) was attributed to the implementation of the projects. This finding indicates that the implementation of the ecological restoration projects have significantly increased ecosystem C sequestration across the country and have substantially contributed to CO2 mitigation in China. Therefore, the implementation of the national key ecological restoration projects could be regarded as an important steps of China in the participation in global environmental governance and fulfilling the national commitment on the CO2 emission reduction targets. 

The research was supported by the Strategic Priority Programme of Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Major Research Program of China and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS.  

The article can be found at: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1700294115 

State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology 

April 18, 2018 

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