Introducing new hybrid of American chestnuts may mitigate climate changeJune 11th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, June 11 (ANI): A new study by researchers at the Purdue University, US, has shown that that introducing a new hybrid of the American chestnut tree would not only bring back the all-but-extinct species, but also put a dent in the amount of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Douglass Jacobs, an associate professor of forestry and natural resources, found that American chestnuts grow much faster and larger than other hardwood species, allowing them to sequester more carbon than other trees over the same period.
Since American chestnut trees are more often used for high-quality hardwood products such as furniture, they hold the carbon longer than wood used for paper or other low-grade materials.
“Maintaining or increasing forest cover has been identified as an important way to slow climate change,” said Jacobs.
“The American chestnut is an incredibly fast-growing tree. Generally the faster a tree grows, the more carbon it is able to sequester. And when these trees are harvested and processed, the carbon can be stored in the hardwood products for decades, maybe longer,” he added.
At the beginning of the last century, the chestnut blight, caused by a fungus, rapidly spread throughout the American chestnut’s natural range, which extended from southern New England and New York southwest to Alabama.
About 50 years ago, the species was nearly gone.
New efforts to hybridize remaining American chestnuts with blight-resistant Chinese chestnuts have resulted in a species that is about 94 percent American chestnut with the protection found in the Chinese species.
Jacobs said those new trees could be ready to plant in the next decade, either in existing forests or former agricultural fields that are being returned to forested land.
“We’re really quite close to having a blight-resistant hybrid that can be reintroduced into eastern forests,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs studied four sites in southwestern Wisconsin that were unaffected by the blight because they are so far from the tree’s natural range.
He compared the American chestnut directly against black walnut and northern red oak at several different ages, and also cross-referenced his results to other studies using quaking aspen, red pine and white pine in the same region.
In each case, the American chestnut grew faster, having as much as three times more aboveground biomass than other species at the same point of development.
American chestnut also sequestered more carbon than all the others.
“Each tree has about the same percentage of its biomass made up of carbon, but the fact that the American chestnut grows faster and larger means it stores more carbon in a shorter amount of time,” Jacobs said. (ANI)
- Trees more sensitive to climate change than previously thought: Study - Apr 05, 2011
- Tree species greatly at risk from climate change - Jan 25, 2011
- Global warming making trees grow at fastest rate in 200 years - Feb 02, 2010
- Natural teak forests declining: UN - Mar 27, 2012
- Microbes aren't accelerating global warming as expected - Apr 27, 2010
- Strong currents accelerate Antarctic ice melt - Jun 27, 2011
- Biofuels will worsen CO2 emissions: Study - Oct 24, 2011
- Forests really do have healing touch - Jul 24, 2010
- Mangroves among most carbon-rich tropical forests - Apr 06, 2011
- Beer-brewing yeast found - Aug 24, 2011
- Wildfires likely to drive global warming - Jul 11, 2011
- Genetically altered trees could reduce global warming - Oct 02, 2010
- Warmer climate could suppress CO2 uptake by trees - Jan 08, 2010
- World's biggest trees face dire future - Feb 09, 2012
- Reforestation captures more carbon than industrial plantations: Study - Jul 31, 2010
Tags: agricultural fields, american chestnut tree, american chestnut trees, american chestnuts, chestnut blight, chinese chestnuts, chinese species, climate change, eastern forests, extinct species, fast growing tree, forest cover, fungus, grade materials, hardwood species, jacobs, purdue university, quality hardwood products, southern new england, southwestern wisconsin