Team 4A: How can we create and communicate a UK wide framework to incentivise and empower land owners, particularly owners of undesirable land, to invoke long term soil management practices?

To avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, we will need to work to remove existing atmospheric carbon dioxide – a concept that is being increasingly integrated into climate policy. Sequestering carbon in soil presents an opportunity for achieving this with limited impacts on financial resources, and with minimal land, water and energy requirements. Simple steps towards better land management could significantly increase the total amount of carbon stored in our soils, and as a result, help to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Industrial land use and poor farming practices have left a legacy of brownfield sites, land contaminated with trace metals, and land depleted in organic carbon stores. We present a concept that presents land owners with an opportunity to re-purpose contaminated land, not only to the economic benefit of the individual, but also to promote soil carbon sequestration.

Our solution, C-Store Earth, is an NGO dedicated to identifying and developing gaps in the current infrastructure to boost the feasibility of soil sequestration.

Primary to ensure economic and environmental targets are met, policy development must be driven by the collaborative efforts of relevant boards (BGS, Soil sustainability alliance, etc). A consensus on the definition and standards for identifying contaminated lands appropriate for sequestration at impactful scales is crucial to assessing the national feasibility of implementing specific actions. Such a definition will be crucial to inform policy, and enable allocation of funding for sequestration projects.

C-Store Earth will work with government partners to develop a detailed definition of contamination across various contaminants. Once a definition is in place, soil sampling can begin to confirm the location of target sites, before land owners can be contacted with relevant information and advice. Examples of suggested land uses changes include eco-burial, community allotments, rewilding and eco-tourism.

C-Store Earth will carry out consistent monitoring of land use and soil health to ensure the success of individual client interactions, and progress in regards to national carbon sequestration. C-Store Earth will also work to build a library of online resources for the purposes of educating the public and future land owners on the importance of soil health.

Our solution presents owners of contaminated land with means to obtain income, whilst providing a strategy to begin a national-level long-term commitment to the sequestration of soil carbon.