"Dig up your “imperial” lawn and replant it with trees to combat the climate
crisis, researchers have urged, after the latest study to lay bare the
emissions cost of maintaining that pleasant, green patch.
If a third of the world’s city lawns were planted with trees, more than a
gigatonne of carbon could be removed from the atmosphere over two decades,
researchers from Auckland University of Technology found. The problem is not
the grass itself, but the mowing, fertilisation and irrigation required.
The researchers reviewed 65 studies of emissions and sequestration of carbon by
turf or lawn compared with trees. They concluded that, globally, the equivalent
of 157 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per hectare could be avoided, and up
to 1,630m tonnes of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere over 20 years if a
third of mown grass in cities were planted with trees.
The traditional lawn – a uniform, trimmed carpet of ryegrass – has been under
fire for years because of its lack of biodiversity and voracious appetite for
fertiliser, herbicides and mowing.
As climate breakdown drives more extreme weather, droughts have highlighted the
irrigation demands of velvety turf. In response, anti-lawn and “rewilding”
movements have seeded across the UK, with advocates pushing to replace the lawn
with trees, shrubs or a more diverse mixture of unmown wildflowers and native
grasses. In 2021, 30 UK councils adopted “No mow May” to encourage wildflower
growth and natural pollinators."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics