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carbon sequestration

Improving the structure of our agricultural soils and returning unproductive agricultural land to permanent pasture will be a game-changer in the battle against rising levels of CO2.

According to the Royal Society, carbon capture by the world’s farmlands, if they were better managed, could total as much as ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – more than the annual carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere.  

The world’s soils contain 1,500 billion tons of carbon in the form of organic material. Increasing the quantity of carbon contained in soils by just 0.4% a year – through restoring and improving degraded agricultural lands – would halt the annual increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. This would go a considerable way to achieving the Climate Change objective of limiting the global temperature increase to +1.5˚C, while at the same time increasing global food security by improving soil fertility and stability.  

The rise in soil function at Knepp has been dramatic. According to a study of our soils by Cranfield University in 2018 soil organic carbon has doubled since rewilding.  

Carbon is also being sequestered in Knepp’s restored wetlands and woody vegetation. A study by Queen Mary University London in 2021 showed 3.7million square metres of new vegetation in the Southern Block between 2001 and 2019. A large part of this area is woody biomass – in effect, carbon.  

The potential for rewilding projects like Knepp to provide carbon sequestration is of increasing interest to the UK government, legally bound to meet its ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, on its way to net zero by 2050. This is why such a huge focus has been given to soil health and soil carbon in the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes.   

We have two major projects concerned with carbon sequestration ongoing at Knepp: Nancy Burrell, the daughter of Charlie and Isabella Burrell (co-owners of Knepp), is studying carbon capture values of new vegetation and woody scrubland across Knepp for her PhD at Oxford University. Simultaneously, we will be taking over 1000 soil cores from the Southern Block as part of a collaboration to build a verifiable carbon credit system that could be rolled out to rewilding projects across the country.     

Further Information

Ball, A.S. and Pretty, J.N. ‘Agricultural influences on carbon emissions and sequestration’. In: Powell, J., et al (eds). Proceedings of the UK Organic Research 2002 Conference, Organic Centre
Wales, Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, pp. 247-250. (2002).  
Harvey, Graham. The Carbon Fields – how our countryside can save Britain. (Grass Roots, UK, 2008)  

Khursheed, S., Simmons, C., Jaber, F., (2016) ‘Glomalin – a key to locking up soil carbon’. Advances in Plants & Agriculture Research, vol 4, issue 1. (2016)  
Montgomery, D. Growing a Revolution – bringing our soil back to life. W.W. Norton & Co. (2017) 
Zhang, W., Hendrix, P.F., et al. ‘Earthworms facilitate carbon sequestration through unequal amplification of carbon stabilization compared with mineralization’. Nature Communications, vol. 4, article no. 2576. (2013).  

‘Glomalin: hiding place for a third of the world’s stored soil carbon’. Agricultural Research Magazine, US Dept of Agriculture. (September 2002).  

‘Restoring the climate through capture and storage of soil carbon using holistic planned grazing’. Savory Institute. (2013)  

UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035 

Wetland Restoration for Climate Change Resilience  

Our 12+ Policy

Knepp Wildland Safaris and campsite are all about the quiet and patient observation of nature.

Some of the species we are likely to encounter are shy or can be frightened by loud noises or sudden movements. Our campsite with open-air fire-pits, wood-burning stoves and an on-site pond is unsuitable for small children.

For this reason, our safaris, holiday cottages and campsite are suitable only for children of 12 and over.

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