spekboom soaks up co2

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-06-24 10:10

Spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is equivalent to that of moist, subtropical forest.

This is quite incredible - evidence gathered in the Eastern Cape over the past seven years shows that spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Spekboom, an indigenous plant known as “elephant’s food”, shows potential to mop up the excess CO2 responsible for climate change, and make a fortune for SA on the international carbon trading market.

The unassuming plant, Portulacaria afra, is now being restored in thousands of hectares of land, which is worth between €10billion... and €20-billion a year in Europe. Findings suggest that up to four tons of carbon a year would be captured by each hectare. [what is carbon trading?]

Spekboom is an evergreen succulent that can reach a height of 2,5m and occurs mainly in the south-eastern Cape. Normally found in rocky, dry areas, it also does well in watered flower beds.

Rates of carbon storage by replanted spekboom were measured on a farm near Uitenhage. About 27 years ago the farmer, Graham Slater, became tired of dealing with regular flooding of his barn and set about replanting the adjacent degraded hillslope with spekboom.

"The two-metre-high growth of spekboom on bare ground under only 250mm to 350mm of annual rainfall was almost miraculous," said Cowling. Each hectare of spekboom on the farm sequestered 4,2 tons of carbon a year.

"The vision is to tap into the international carbon market and thereby restore hundreds of thousands of hectares of degraded thicket, provide tens of thousands of jobs in the process and create a source of income for rural communities for many decades," Cowling said. [M&G]

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