Minister from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Edwin Poots, has said that a new report highlighting the CO2 uptake by different types of woodlands will be “of great benefit to foresters”.

The new report, produced by the Forest Research Agency, analysed the CO2 uptake by forestry, and showed that a diverse range of woodland types can all make a “significant” contribution, according to the report.

The ‘Quantifying the Sustainable Forestry Carbon Cycle’ report showed that in a shorter term of around 30 years, faster growing conifer plantations soak up the highest levels of CO2.

However, over a longer period, other types of woodlands – including native broadleaves and naturally regenerated woodlands – start to achieve comparable levels of CO2 uptake.

Commenting on the report, which analysed 12 different types of woodlands, Poots said: “Northern Ireland has an ambitious commitment to reach net zero by 2050.”

“Expanding our forests and woodlands is key to achieving this as these trees will soak up harmful CO2 from the atmosphere.”

Poots said that forests and woodlands in NI are sequestering half a million tonnes of CO2 each year, which is equivalent to 9.5% of the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“This demonstrates clearly how important our woodland expansion plans are in fighting climate change,” he said.

“Our forests and woodlands are also vital in tackling another global crisis. Our woodlands are helping many forms of biodiversity thrive and are therefore crucial in helping reverse the damaging effects of nature loss.”

Poots said that evidence and research needs to be gathered in order to “get the best out of our forests for the future”.

“This new piece of research will be of great benefit to foresters to help them do just that,” he said.