This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. This week, we talk to Peter Olivier and Jim Mann of the Future Forest Company, about carbon-removal approaches that take ecology into consideration.
Activists often draw a distinction between “technological” and “nature-based” approaches to removing excess carbon from the atmosphere. In truth, the distinction can be pretty blurry, with many approaches straddling the line. And we should be wary of a simplistic “nature good, technology bad” stance; nature has its limits, and nature-based solutions alone will not be enough to solve this massive problem. As today’s IPCC report confirms, we’ll probably need multiple forms of removal at large scale as the century goes on.
All of that said, while DAC and other more “technology-based” approaches will certainly have their place, nature-based solutions can offer a number of interesting co-benefits. A nature-based CDR solution can both remove atmospheric carbon and help rebuild depleted ecosystems.
That insight is the core of the Future Forest Company’s approach. Founded in Scotland, the company originally focused on helping landowners generate carbon credits through reforestation. Once they had reached profitability that way, they started digging deeper into ensuring permanent, scalable carbon removal. Permanence and scalability are tricky factors in CDR, and trees, with their high land requirements and susceptibility to fire, have major limitations in both departments. As we’ve often noted, we’d need to reforest several planets worth of land to remove the excess CO2 in this planet’s atmosphere.
With all of that in mind, the company started looking for more durable strategies. They’ve now landed on a two-pronged approach built around biochar and enhanced rock weathering. We’ve covered both of these extensively on This Is CDR, but one thing they have in common is agricultural co-benefits: besides removing carbon dioxide, both technologies improve soil fertility. That makes them a win-win for farmland, where soil is often depleted by years of crops.
You can learn more by watching Peter and Jim’s presentation, which goes into more detail about each approach and some of their interesting holistic advantages. Be sure to check back next week for more This Is CDR, and you can also catch up on the whole This Is CDR series on our resources page.