View of Borrowdale looking north to Derwentwater copyright Charlie Hedley

Carbon in the Lake District landscape

How much carbon is already in the landscape?

Carbon storage map

We have used satellite data to produce a map of existing carbon storage in the Lake District. The shaded blocks show the average carbon stored in plants and soil per hectare. The darker the shading, the more carbon is stored.

Click the map controls to zoom in, or to move the map around. Loading maps can take time, so please be patient!

Key to carbon storage map:

Tonnes of carbon stored per hectare

Colour key for 0-65 tonnes of carbon stored by hectare 0 - 65 Colour key for 66-130 tonnes of carbon stored by hectare 66 - 130 Colour key for 131-195 tonnes of carbon stored by hectare 131 - 195 Colour key for 196-260 tonnes of carbon stored by hectare 196 - 260    White: no data available

The total amount of carbon storage

Peat and woodland are some of the Lake District's largest existing stores of carbon. The Lake District is estimated to already store:

In peat:

22.9 million tonnes of carbon - equivalent to 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In woodland:

  • 3.4 million tonnes of carbon - equivalent to 12.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Additionally, it is estimated that 97,504 tonnes of carbon dioxide are sequestered (removed from the atmosphere) each year by woodland in the Lake District National Park.
  • A further 35,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent are added to the store in wood products each year.
  • 33,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide are 'saved' by substituting carbon-intensive products – such as fossil fuels, steel and concrete – with timber products or wood fuel.

You can find out more about carbon storage and sequestration in Lake District woodlands, and the carbon benefits from Lake District harvested wood products, in:

Why do these elements need protecting?

To mitigate climate change, these existing stores need to be protected. Many Lake District peat soils are very slowly depleting – releasing carbon back into the atmosphere because they are in poor condition.

It is estimated that Lake District peat soils are emitting 32,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. When fully-functioning the existing store is protected and peatlands also sequester carbon (remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

Woodland has the greatest potential for sequestration. To achieve this we need to manage our existing woodlands and increase the number of young woodlands where vigorous growth occurs. Planting a new native broadleaf woodland will sequester 336 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare planted over a 100 year period.

Ensuring harvested-wood has as long a life as possible, for example in wood products, or by substituting the burning of fossil fuels is further action we can take, after the wood has left the forest.

But is it really that significant?

To put these figures into context, the carbon emissions from the activity of residents and visitors within the National Park is estimated to be 2.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The Lake District National Park Partnership have set a target to reduce this figure by 23,000 tonnes each year.

So yes, the carbon store in Lake District peat and woodland - equivalent to 96.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – is very important. And the annual sequestration and carbon 'savings' from wood fuel and substitution of products – totaling 165,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year - really does help!

Contact us

We want to work with land managers to develop together how carbon land management can be a greater part of our landscape. If you would like to be involved in this process, please contact samantha.hagon@lakedistrict.gov.uk

Related pages

In association with:

Link to University of Cumbria website
Link to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships websiteLink to Technology Strategy Board website