Considerable opportunity and growing technical sophistication exist to make terrestrial carbon sequestration both practical and effective, according to a manual issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Best Practices for Terrestrial Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide" details suitable operational approaches and techniques for terrestrial sequestration, a carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation strategy capable of removing CO2 already in the air. DOE said terrestrial sequestration, which uses photosynthesis to create organic matter that is stored in vegetation and soils, differs from CO2 mitigation technologies that focus on capturing and permanently storing human-generated emissions.

The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory prepared the manual with data from the seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships. Topics covered include land types and management methods that can maximize carbon storage in vegetation and soil, as well as the status of greenhouse gas trading and participating institutions. The manual also discusses the analytical techniques necessary to monitor, verify and account for terrestrially stored carbon. Results from the partnerships’ terrestrial field projects are presented to illustrate what can be done.

Among other things, terrestrial sequestration takes advantage of degraded soils to restore carbon stocks to their former levels. The effort holds promise to decrease atmospheric CO2 levels and increase productivity of the land. The best practices outlined in this manual will help those interested in pursuing terrestrial sequestration projects, as well as those interested in regulating such projects, to optimize their sequestration efforts and save time, effort, and funds.

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