Carbon plantation

Sneaky peak into large-scale plantation of hybrid Paulownia trees planted to absorb 60 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year.

Tony Kirkham posted images of the Paulownia elongata x Paulownia fortunei plantation in Norfolk. Carbon Plantations, the firm behind the innovative project, predicts that the plantation will capture up to ten times as much CO2 during an 80-year lifetime than a mixed, native woodland.

Widespread in Asia, the paulownia tree is thought to be one of the fastest growing in the world, reaching up to 8 m in five years. This new variety is an infertile hybrid, bred to grow in the Northern European climate and can tolerate temperatures as low as -22C. The new hybrids have already been grown successfully in plantations in Germany, Italy and Spain.

As well as sequestering CO2, the Paulownia plantations (in Norfolk and Suffolk) will provide a locally grown source of hardwood timber reducing the need to import wood from abroad. The timber is both lightweight and strong, more fire resistant than other species and has good insulation properties.

The Forestry Commission approved the plantation project at the beginning of 2022.