Using hybrid American Chestnut trees to capture carbon

Professor Jacobs stands next to an American Chestnut tree
Professor Jacobs stands next to an American Chestnut tree
Most of the emphasis on stopping global warming has been on reducing the amount of carbon and GWG’s emitted into the atmosphere, but the other side of the coin is worth exploring too.  There are a number of carbon sequestration projects being looked at, but Douglass Jacobs, an associate of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University, is looking into a more low-tech solution – the reintroduction of hybridized American chestnut trees.   Basically, the American Chestnut tree was almost killed off by the chestnut blight in the beginning of the 1900’s, and was practically eliminated from this country’s forests.   The American Chestnut tree grows far faster than most trees – creating almost 3 times as much biomass as other trees in the same amount of time – thereby storing more carbon in a shorter amount of time.

Professor Jacobs has developed a strain of American Chestnut tree that is resistant to the chestnut blight by crossing the American Chestnut with blight resistant Chinese Chestnut trees, and feels that the new crossbreed trees could be ready to plant in the next decade, either in existing forests or former farms that are being returned to forested lands.    According to Jacobs, trees currently absorb about 1/6th of the carbon emitted globally each year, and by increasing the amount of trees, you could see a significant increase in carbon absorption.

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