Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes
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Landscapes as Carbon Sinks

CSFL is delivering a new initiative that aims to transform Scotland's landscapes from carbon sources to carbon sinks.

The EIT Climate-KIC Deep Demonstration project connects pioneering land-based, bioeconomy and investment organisations with policy makers and citizens to deliver positive change in Scotland's land sector.

Landscapes as Carbon Sinks is working towards designing a systemic transformation of the land use sectors to make the whole of Scotland a net carbon sink, building on the target of the Government of Scotland of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

The initiative brings together research, policy development, business innovation, access to financial investment, and land management expertise to co-design and deliver low-carbon economies and landscapes.

Landscapes as Carbon Sinks is a collaboration between CSFL, ECCI, EIT Climate-KIC, working with those tasked with delivering change in the land sector, including the Scottish Government and a range of public and private ‘challenge-owners’ in Scotland. The initiative brings together the research expertise of CSFL and ECCI’s focus on the low carbon economy.  

forest trees

With sites in Scotland and France, the project aims to demonstrate that holistic approaches can be implemented to make land and its ecosystems play their role in addressing climate change and to help territories meet carbon neutrality.

Designing projects that scale

EIT Climate-KIC's Deep Demonstration design process provides space to create bold ideas and integrated thinking to tackle multiple societal challenges simultaneously over the next ten years:

  • 2019-2020: Working with partner organisations to explore future options, identify key challenges, and elaborate potential levers for change.
  • 2020-2021: Priority shifts to designing approaches for unlocking the levers of change and testing these approaches through experimental implementation. This could be in the form of creative new business models, governance systems, innovative financing, new technologies, new products, or management approaches and behaviours.
  • 2021-2030: Transformative ideas structured and trialled over a period of 3-10 years. Each project will be tested for its societal, environmental, and economic impact, working towards the ultimate goal of net-zero carbon across Scotland.

The project's exploratory phase kicked off with a workshop organised by CSFL in late 2019, in which stakeholders across rural and land based sectors gathered to design the objectives, activities, and implementation plans for the project in 2020 and beyond.

The first phase was based around the principle of ‘deep listening’ to the individuals and organisations facing challenges and scoping out the scale of the solution. Attendees included Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Trust and forest-mapping start-up CloudForest.

Professor Jaboury Ghazoul, Director of CSFL said: “Land use remains a source of greenhouse gases due to inappropriate agricultural, forestry, and land degradation practices that reduce sink and sequestration functions in many regions. This should change."

Land, its uses, and its ecosystems, offer untapped opportunities to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and to sequester carbon in biomass and soil. This is not as straightforward as simply planting trees, though that remains part of the solution, but rather requires an integrated landscape management perspective.

Prof Jaboury GhazoulCSFL Director
More information

Landscapes as Carbon Sinks welcomes interested partners to contact the team throughout the duration of the project. Please contact Jaboury Ghazoul (csfl@ed.ac.uk) to find out more and get involved.