How can the UK protect and increase its standing stock of organic carbon: trees, peat, soil, and salt marshes? How can these habitats most efficiently be distributed spatially given limited land and other needs (for example urban space, food production, recreation)? How can increases in carbon stocks be achieved while maximising co-benefits such as biodiversity, clean water, and nutrient balance?


To limit future warming requires rapid reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving net zero by 2050, as required by UK legislation. Climate mitigation is led in government by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). But Defra is responsible for efforts to reduce GHG emissions from four sectors: agriculture, waste and wastewater, land-use, and fluorinated gases (F-gases). Defra also has responsibility to promote forestry, which acts as a carbon sink. Together, the four Defra sectors represent 15% of the total net UK GHGs, with agriculture being the biggest contributor (about 10% of UK emissions).

Defra has research interests in reduction of emissions, the removal of GHG from the atmosphere, and in understanding the impacts of mitigation activities on other environmental outcomes.

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