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CSX Carbon are delighted to have been involved in the Natural-capital (carbon and biodiversity) baselining research and subsequent report undertaken over the last year on the Bunloit estate near Loch Ness in Scotland. Bunloit Rewilding, the operator of the estate, published the report to COP26 on 11th November 2021.

Bunloit Rewilding is a new company with a purpose of enabling nature recovery and community prosperity through rewilding.

The extensive existing woodlands and grasslands of the Bunloit estate cover some 441 hectares, 86.3% of the estate land area. An estimated 866 tCO2e / year is being sequestered in these habitats. But meanwhile the open peatlands, which cover c. 70 hectares, or 13.7% of the land area, tell a different story. Based on the data gathered so far on the ground, the Bunloit team and their academic partners have calculated an estimated loss of 1,106 tCO2e / year.

Ben Hart, who manages carbon and biodiversity accountancy, said of the combined datasets: “We find an unsettling picture of a verdant estate, replete with healthy woodlands, being a net source of greenhouse-gas emissions, with an estimated average net loss of 240 tCO2e / year.”

“We have two main routes to reversing this most undesirable state of affairs. The first is to fell non-native conifer plantations sitting atop the peat, letting the compressed bogs “breathe” again, with healthy moss growing and drawing carbon dioxide down into the wetland, meanwhile planting broadleaves elsewhere on the estate to compensate for the carbon stock loss in the plantations. The second is peatland restoration, in particular by blocking drainage channels so as to promote moss growth by retaining water in the bogs.”

Based on current data, Bunloit Rewilding estimate the reduction in carbon losses from peatland restoration and extra sequestration from new planting to be a net saving of 60,747 tCO2e over 100 years.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, founder and Acting CEO of Bunloit rewilding, said: “We hope the evidence shines through in our report that the process of returning to the natural state we seek will render the landscape quantifiably better at sequestering carbon and building biodiversity than the current estate. Our aim is to use that process to help make nature-based solutions more investible than they seem to be today, quicker than would otherwise have been the case. We also hope that in so doing we can provide a beacon for hope that humankind can ultimately not just survive but prosper as we arrest climate meltdown and reverse biodiversity collapse.”

Andy Howard, CSX Carbon CEO, said “CSX has established Carbon Observatories throughout the UK, and we’re delighted to be working with Bunloit Rewilding as one of these control sites. The purpose of the Observatories is to test and combine Earth Observation technologies into a robust and workable mechanism for land managers to assess and bring their carbon to market. These sites have been chosen for their variety – bare land ready for afforestation, recently planted woodlands to mature woodlands and of course rewilding: broadleaf, conifer and mixed. CSX is using the Observatories to gather data at different resolutions, overlap and flying heights to establish an accuracy of machine learning suitable for measurement needs. We are also ground testing this data using traditional methods and comparing these results against Terrestrial Laser Scanning and commercially accessible LIDAR. We then apply machine learning to the gathered data to ensure our AI calculates a detailed and complete measure of sequestration which learns and improves its accuracy further with time”.

CSX Carbon are proud to have made a significant contribution to the Bunloit Rewilding Natural Capital Report 2021, and look forward to continuing to work with the project to monitor and assess the results of the restoration activities taking place at Bunloit.

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