Image

Methane-munching forest soils to the rescue

4 July 2023
Scion scientists have embarked on important new research to find out how much methane is being consumed by microorganisms in New Zealand’s planted forest soils.

Forest soils are good habitats for bacteria that absorb and release methane (CH4) as a source of carbon and energy. By quantifying how much methane is consumed by the bacteria, known as methanotrophs, at field sites, the project will reveal just how important planted forest soils are to New Zealand as part of broader efforts that seek to better understand the country’s total net emissions and ways to mitigate climate change.

Once complete, the research will provide valuable insights for policy makers examining greenhouse gas emissions as it can be used to paint a more accurate picture of the country’s total net carbon budget.

Due to agricultural activity, methane production in New Zealand is disproportionately high on a per capita basis – about six times the global average. Understanding the potential for other land uses, such as forestry, to mitigate these agricultural emissions is critical, says Scion senior scientist Dr Steve A. Wakelin.

“We know that forests are great for storing carbon from carbon dioxide, but this research is helping us learn about forestry’s capability to offset methane emissions as well. We believe it is a first step in a future programme of work that will demonstrate how different land uses in New Zealand are all interconnected, and how to manage these holistically for win-win outcomes.”

He says New Zealand’s economy is reliant on the livestock sector for jobs, food and income. Scion’s research aims to show how forestry can support the agricultural sector to tackle one of its biggest challenges.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is funding the research, with support from Lincoln University. It follows international studies proving that forest soils create optimal conditions for the methane-absorbing microbes. As methane in the air passes over and diffuses within forest soil, methanotrophs consume the methane.

“We find methanotrophs are abundant in our DNA-based surveys of planted forest soils,” Wakelin says. “Indeed, based on overseas systems, it turns out that planted forest soils are pretty good habitats for methanotrophs; we just haven’t looked at this in New Zealand before.”

Photo: Scientist and project lead Kathryn Walker is measuring how fast soil microbes are consuming methane by taking gas samples from field chambers installed in forests

More >>

Source: Scion

Read More
Image

Who’s transforming our economy with renewable resources?

The opportunities for converting forestry fibre to renewable resources to replace fossil fuel based products are growing every year. The adoption of bioenergy and related technologies / products in New Zealand and internationally, sourced from forestry and wood products companies ...
Read more
Image

Södra to become the largest producer of kraft lignin in the world

As a step in the strategy of getting more out of every tree, Södra is now establishing a new business to become a world leader in the production of kraft lignin. Södra’s production facility will be the first commercial facility ...
Read more
Image

NZ National Exotic Forest Description survey – data needed

On 1 April 2024, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) sent out the 2024 National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) survey. The survey is critical for informing wood availability forecasts, which underpin infrastructure and wood processing investment decisions, as well as contributing to a ...
Read more
Image

Unlimited potential of virtual reality for forest thinning

How a virtual reality (VR) and gaming engine could add another tool to the forestry training kit. A future where new foresters are trained to thin trees from the safety of a virtual reality forest before more advanced real-world training could be ...
Read more
Image

Growing the potential of NZ’s forestry sector in partnership

Forestry Minister, Todd McClay, has announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. ...
Read more
Image

Hydrogen powered airships collecting forest data

Kelluu, a Finnish company founded in 2018, offers commercial enterprises and government agencies with data-as-a-service, specialising in monitoring and providing real-time, actionable intelligence on power lines, roads and railways, as well as surveying and monitoring potential environmental issues associated with ...
Read more
Image

Extreme bushfires increasing in number and intensity

Extreme bushfires have more than doubled in frequency and intensity over the past two decades, according to a global study from the University of Tasmania. Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the research reveals that six of the past seven years have ...
Read more
Image

Forest Flows – key update at Environmental Forestry 2024

The Forest Flows Research Programme shared its data driven results at the Environmental Forestry Conference last week. The programme’s main objectives is to quantify the water use of plants and trees, and the water storage and release in planted forest ...
Read more
Image

Rocket Lab signs record deal for 10 electron launches with Synspective

Rocket Lab USA, a global leader in launch services and space systems, recently announced it has signed the largest Electron launch agreement in the Company’s history; a ten-launch deal with Japanese Earth observation company Synspective. The agreement was announced in ...
Read more