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Canadian swamps, the secret CO2 storage weapon against climate change

swamps canada

Canadian swamps have a new found value for carbon capture and storage, and they are starting to become a secret weapon for climate change, according to a news story from the CBC.

Firstly, according to Christina Davy, a research scientist for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, swamps have underground roots and ramifications that naturally store carbon dioxide.

Secondly, many swamps across Canada are drying, especially in densely populated areas of Ontario; however, Davy who runs a conservation ecology lab at Trent University in Peterborough, is among a number of scientists pushing to preserve and restore them.

Thirdly, cited by the CBC, she said to the radio show What on Earth that “they do look like big mud puddles; consequently, many people don’t understand how important they are, I think we don’t always give them the value that they really deserve.”

Moreover, she highlighted that, across Canada, urban expansion and agriculture have replaced and/or dried at least three quarters of them; in fact, there is even more loss of wetlands all across Canada’s south.

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Swamps store CO2 equivalent of driving a car 225 billion kilometers

In addition, she explained that they function as a natural carbon sink place; “they have tremendous root systems that store the carbon dioxide that the plants take out of the air. But, also, three to five times more gets stored in the organic matter; in the roots in the soil. And those roots stay there in this kind of ecosystem. They don’t decompose very much because the soil is so wet and they just keep accumulating more and more soil as sea level rises.”

Furthermore, she underlined that this has been happening for millennia; Gail Chmura, a professor in the department of geography at McGill University; confirmed that there may be at least 3000 of carbon dioxide stored in the swamps.

On the other hand, Chmura has calculated, from testing the sites, that swamps may hold about the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide equivalent of driving a vehicle for 225 billion kilometers. Even more, restoring the is relatively simple and helps also the biodiversity around the site.

However, when it comes to putting a price on the land; or to think about it as a development area, Sheri Young, climate change and energy specialist with the town of Okotoks in southern Alberta; said to the BBC that swamps in Okotoks may be worth 3,2 million.

Finally, she also underlined that preserving those areas could add to counter measure the warming effect of cities across Canada; “They could counteract the 404,000 tons of carbon the town emits every year.”

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