The UK government is working to accelerate its target to reach net zero by 2050. A new hybrid species of Paulownia will be grown for the first plantation of this kind in the UK that will aim to reduce emissions as part of the government’s carbon capture strategy.
The Paulownia plantation is located at a 134-hectare site in Suffolk, UK and is designed to absorb 150,000 tonnes of CO2 in its first 10 years.
The Forestry Commission gave the green light to the plantations back at the beginning of the year. The global irrigation leader Netafim also announced recently it will supply its drip system to the Paulownia plantation.
Paulownia trees are special in their abilities to mitigate climate change. They can absorb ten times as much CO2 during an 80-year lifetime as a typical mixed native woodland. They are also one of the fastest-growing trees in the world, reaching up to 8 meters in five years.
When grown in a properly managed plantation, they are estimated to capture over 60 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year over their average 80-year lifecycle.
“No other tree can sequester as much CO2 as quickly as the Paulownia, and its wood is known as the aluminum of the timber industry… This new hybrid variety offers huge potential benefits for biodiversity, carbon capture and UK hardwood supply,” said Nigel Couch, managing director at Carbon Plantations, the company behind the project.
The trees usually grow in warmer climates in Asia, however, a new variety of infertile hybrid has been bred in the Northern European climate and can tolerate temperatures as low as -22C. Those trees are already successfully grown in plantations in Germany, Italy, and Spain, as well as on other continents.
Fighting climate change via reforestation is one of the most proven and popular means. Paulownia trees are adaptable, fast-growing, and sequester huge amounts of CO2 which makes them a preferred choice for developing reforestation projects.