Environmental impact of restoring ecosystems

Restoration impact on carbon budgets

Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas fluxes in Sierra Nevada Meadows Recently, California passed cap and trade legislation to manage carbon emissions. As a result, ecosystems may be managed or restored to sequester carbon, and carbon credits could be sold to offset the cost of restoration. Sierra Nevada meadows are often degraded, but hydrologic restoration may have an added benefit: it could result in an increase in carbon storage in the soil and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Our goal is to measure greenhouse gas fluxes from soil and carbon sequestration in soil before, immediately after, and up to 15 years after restoration. Our results show how much carbon may be sequestered by restoration and if shifts in the balance of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions from these ecosystems result in a net reduction in total greenhouse gas produced by soil microorganisms.

We also hope to learn what factors control carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases in meadows. One outcome of this research will likely be that it will determine the extent to which restoration may affect meadow carbon budgets and will inform land managers and policy makers interested in carbon credits in California.

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