Climate change is a well-known and urgent challenge for international, national, regional and local environment policies and actions. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been identified as a vital and shared worldwide aim to mitigate the effects of climate change. LIFE projects and many other initiatives across Europe have looked at ways to reduce such emissions from a whole range of human activities, industries and processes. In addition to reducing emissions however, efforts to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere can also contribute to mitigating climate change. Plants can play an important role through their natural extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere via the process of photosynthesis. Reforestation of land leads to the capture of carbon by the trees through turning CO2 from the atmosphere into biomass. However, although agroforestry techniques could contribute significantly in the fight against climate change, they have not yet been developed in a meaningful way in the EU.
The overall objective of the 'OPERATION CO2' project is to demonstrate the economic viability and environmental validity of agroforestry carbon sequestering projects in Europe. It aims to demonstrate new agroforestry approaches at three different locations in Spain with a multinational team of nine partners from three Member States: Spain; the Netherlands; and the UK.
The first pillar of this project will promote active nature conservation and carbon management in natural forests over an area of 4 500 ha. This will seek to implement a series of targeted forest and carbon actions resulting in the long-term improvement of carbon sequestering in natural forests. The project thus hopes to deliver the certification of carbon credits for the forest area that will subsequently be released on the Voluntary Carbon Offsets Market.
The second pillar of the project will involve the transformation of two naturally degraded areas ? each covering 25 ha - into integral agroforest ecosystems. It aims to successfully plant a large variety of species on a range of soil types in degraded, non-irrigated agricultural lands that face the negative effects of climate change in the form of ever increasing dryness. It foresees the planting of four components of integral systems: timber; biomass; cash crops; and fruit trees and shrubs.