Control of multiscale heterogeneities to activate natural carbon sink potentials
Gartenanlage vor blauem Himmel
Gartenanlage vor blauem Himmel

GONASIP investigates these influences to understand how limited available land resources can be used for natural CDR methods that will increase societal benefits.

Project managementProf. Dr. Erik GawelHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ
Project duration2/1/2022 - 1/31/2025

Project goals

There are both technical and natural methods to remove climate-damaging CO₂ (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. Measures to naturally sequester carbon in soils range from municipal afforestation in cities, tree planting on unsealed brownfield sites to carbon storage in agricultural soils, for example. In addition to contributing to climate protection, these natural CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) measures can create further added value for society through increased ecosystem services such as improved water storage in the soil or increased local recreational value of the landscape.

At the same time, natural CDR measures can also cause opportunity costs, in other words, restrict other productive uses. For example, intensive agriculture or new areas for residential and commercial buildings may not be compatible with natural CDR measures. Moreover, the costs of implementing natural CDR measures usually drop back to landowners while the benefits of ecosystem services are often a public good, so that the incentive for landowners to implement natural CDR measures is often too low.

However, both the social added values and the opportunity costs of land use vary depending on the specific CDR measure. Other factors of the site such as space and actors do also influence the valuation as well.

Given these heterogeneous factors, the question arises, how limited land resources can be used for natural CDR measures in ways that effectively increase societal benefits.

The research work of the GONASIP project aims to contribute to answering this important practical question. The objectives of the project are:

  1. Assess the potential of different natural CDR measures for carbon storage and ecosystem services for site-specific conditions,
  2. identify and assess the location- and actor-specific societal added values and costs associated with the implementation of natural CDR measures, and
  3. to analyse how the regulatory framework, i.e. the relevant European and national legislation, for example in the field of agricultural, environmental, and spatial planning law, influences decisions for or against the use of natural CDR measures. It will also have to be explored, how the multiple heterogeneous characteristics of natural CDR measures could be considered in the further development of the regulatory framework in order to provide incentives for the efficient use of land resources by natural CDR measures.

The GONASIP project focuses its analyses on selected carbon storage measures in agriculture and municipal afforestation.

The researchers use stakeholder-based assessment approaches for this. Key stakeholder groups are involved in workshops and surveys to support the impact assessment of the use of natural CDR measures as well as the economic assessment of the societal added values of natural CDR measures.

In this way, GONASIP contributes to the expansion of knowledge about the potentials and risks of natural CDR measures, to the assessment of the extent of heterogeneity of their costs and societal added values as well as to the possibilities of using these findings for the further development of the regulatory framework.

Urbaner Wald / Güterbahnhof Plagwitz