Chestnuts to Stop Planet from Roasting?


A revitalized American chestnut tree could be a factor in slowing global warming, according to a new study. But there's a big "if":

If scientists can develop a fungus-resistant version of the tree, the chestnut could play a key role in the battle against climate change, Purdue University scientists say.

"Maintaining or increasing forest cover has been identified as an important way to slow climate change," said Douglass Jacobs, whose chestnut tree study appears in the June issue of Forest Ecology and Management.

In a study conducted at four sites in southwestern Wisconsin, the American chestnut grew much faster and larger than the black walnut and northern red oak, allowing it to soak up more carbon dioxide, the study found. The tree's higher carbon capacity makes it an ideal candidate for forest restoration projects and carbon offset schemes, particularly on marginal farmland in the Midwest.

As Scientific American points out, the American Clean Energy and Security Act that passed the House recently would promote investment in reforestation projects to offset carbon emissions.

Photo via Flickr's *amalthea*

Published: July 6, 2009