Sheep grazing at Rydal copyright Steve Reeve

Managing land for carbon

How does it fit with current land management?

Land is managed for many things including food production, biodiversity, recreation and water quality. It is widely felt that 'carbon' land management should not be at the expense of the other benefits being provided.

General principles of managing land for carbon are looking after soils and maximising vegetation growth. In many cases land management for carbon will be the same as land management for another purpose – so in the right place it can bring additional benefits. For example:

  • Increasing soil carbon is linked to increased soil fertility
  • Planting trees can provide animal shelter; bio-security; timber and wood-fuel and help to reduce the impacts of flooding
  • Restoring peat bogs benefits biodiversity; enhances water quality and helps to reduce the impacts of flooding

What does managing land for carbon involve?

In the UK, peat is the largest existing store of carbon and woodland is the most important land use for sequestration (removing carbon from the atmosphere). Grassland, woodland and semi-natural land store and sequester more carbon than cultivated land.

To find out more, see our information booklet Managing land for carbon (PDF)

Examples of good practice

  • Minimising periods of bare ground
  • Reducing soil erosion, run-off and compaction
  • Returning farm waste to the soil
  • Creating, protecting or expanding small strips of farm woodland, shelter belts and hedgerow trees
  • Practicing continuous-cover forestry
  • Using nitrogen-fixing plants such as clover as part of grassland management to reduce fertiliser inputs

Contact us

We will be providing further information and advice in the coming months. See the Carbon and Land Management page for updates. We want to work with land managers to see how  land management for carbon is best undertaken to fit with existing businesses. If you would like to be involved, please contact

Related pages

Useful links

All links open in a new window unless stated otherwise:

Technical reports

In association with:

Link to University of Cumbria website

Link to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships websiteLink to Technology Strategy Board website