28th June 2020
Like many of us I really enjoy travelling. I have family in different parts of the world and if the chance arises then I like to visit them. During our lockdown all this has stopped and one thing everyone has noticed is the improvement in the air we breathe. This begs a number of questions. Should we be travelling as much? When we travel what is the cost to the planet? How can we offset this cost if we choose to travel?
Each of us needs to answer these questions for ourselves but in the midst of this is the added confusion of the language that we use. What is the “climate crisis”? Should I be a vegetarian or a vegan, or a sustainably sourced meat eater? And what does “sustainable” mean anyway? And one of the oddest phrases we hear now and again – what is “carbon sequestration”?
None of us can be experts in everything and most of us are not climate scientists. We rely upon the media and the scientists to help us make informed decisions about what we can do as individuals or as a community to be most effective in our efforts to save the planet.
As I may have mentioned my own greenspace is fairly small. My meadow area is approximately 2.5m x 6m, which if my maths is right, works out is about 15 square metres. I have looked up the term “carbon sequestration” and most experts define it as the capture and long term storage of carbon from the atmosphere to help slow or reverse global warming. So how much carbon do I store in my small garden meadow?
You will not be surprised to know that this is difficult to calculate, but I have done my best. Here goes; after a fairly intensive search amongst the published data the generally agreed figures are that in your average meadow habitat there is about 40kg of carbon stored per metre to a depth of about one metre. On this basis by letting my grass grow as a meadow this summer I am storing about 600kg of carbon. This sounds a lot but it does include all the material below the ground; roots, fungi and all the other microscopic soil organisms.
The exciting thing about this kind of maths is that as you start to multiply things get much bigger. Imagine the calculation for all the gardens in Medway! Let’s add in all the land in our parks and public greenspaces and along our road verges! Suddenly, Medway is a place that can make difference at a national level for the UK carbon sequestration. We can also be a beacon for other parts of Kent and the country to show what can be done.
It may be that my maths is not particularly accurate but the point is that in my own small way my garden is making a difference. You can also add in to this “equation” the biodiversity of a meadow and the sense of wellbeing that we get by allowing the natural world to thrive.
It is National Meadows Day on the 4th July and we are celebrating this with our #MedwayMarvelousMeadows so please send in your pictures. Don’t forget our “Spotlight On…” page where we celebrate our amazing greenspaces and the volunteers who care for them.
At the end of the day whether it is in our gardens, our window boxes or our parks we can help tackle the climate crisis and have fun doing it!