22 September, 2023
Ecosystem engineering using desert plants and microbes planted in fertility islands has great potential for carbon sequestration on degraded arid lands, says the leader of KAUST’s Darwin21 Lab Heribert Hirt.
In recent years, a number of large reforestation projects have been launched to reclaim arid regions, but the potential of replanting arid lands for carbon capture has not been considered before, says Hirt.
Degraded arid lands cover about one-third of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and also contain about one-third of global soil carbon, most in the form of inorganic carbon as calcium carbonates. This soil inorganic carbon can form naturally when dissolved calcium carbonate crystallizes under low soil water content or when soil microbes produce carbonates via a mechanism known as the oxalate carbon pathway.