How do Olive Trees Capture Carbon?
In this post, I'll explain a little more about what carbon capture is and the role that olive trees play in the capture of carbon.
Firstly, let's define carbon capture as the process of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in stable matter. This might be coal buried in the ground, or healthy living trees. Carbon can be stored in lots of different way, but the key idea is that the capture should be long term and stable.
Olive trees capture carbon as they absorb CO2 from the air as part of their photosynthesis process. The carbon (C) is captured from the airborne CO2, and the remaining oxygen (O2) is released into the atmosphere as a by-product.
In practical terms, photosynthesis is the energy source that trees and plants use to grow and produce fruit and /or flowers. Or, in our case, olives, which are then used to make olive oil.
More specifically, photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.
Olive trees are particularly efficient at photosynthesis, which makes them excellent at capturing carbon from the air.
The carbon captured by olive trees is stored in their leaves, branches, and roots. Over time, this carbon is transferred to the soil where it is sequestered and stored in the form of organic matter. This process is known as carbon sequestration, and it is a natural way to combat climate change.
Olive Trees live for hundreds of years and capture carbon throughout their life
One of the benefits of using olive trees for carbon capture is that they are a sustainable and renewable resource. Olive trees can live for hundreds of years, and absorb CO2 throughout their lifespan.
This means that olive trees provide a consistent and long-term source of carbon sequestration.
In addition to capturing carbon, olive trees have other environmental benefits. They provide habitat for wildlife and support biodiversity. They help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil health. There is good evidence too that a well kept olive grove creates a fire break in case of mid mountain forest fires.
Equally, abandoned and recently overgrown olive groves do the opposite. They accelerate forest fires.
And, of course, olive trees are the source of delicious olives and olive oil. Which is where you come in!
When you eat and cook with olive oil, you provide an economic income to the mid mountain farmers. The farmers, in turn, care for the olive trees and ensure these trees keep growing and capturing carbon!
There are several ways to increase the carbon capture potential of olive trees. One method is to encourage farmers to plant more olive trees.
This will, obviously, increase the overall amount of carbon that is sequestered. Another approach is to manage olive groves in a way that maximizes their photosynthetic efficiency.
This can include pruning, fertilizing, and watering the trees to promote healthy growth.
The Importance of Water for Olive Trees
Olive oil production is a relatively water-intensive process. This can have negative impacts on the local environment if the water is not sourced in a sustainable manner.
Good olive tree farmers use sustainable farming practices and adopt water-saving technologies. Typically, this includes stone walls built to terrace the olive groves to reduce rainwater run off. Equally, some farmers create natural water sinks where more rainwater can collect.
However, the best solution is to find olive trees that enjoy a relatively high natural rainfall coupled with a abundant source of nature springs.
Serriana Olive Oil, from the Sierra Espadan, enjoys a higher rate of rainwater as well as an abundance of natural mountain springs.
The key to water sustainability is to ensure that the local farmers develop a system of sharing the water resource sensibly and fairly. This can take many years to develop.
And this is why traditional olive groves are often more productive for carbon capture because they are less intensively cultivated.
Overall, olive trees are a valuable resource for carbon capture. They are efficient at photosynthesis and can store significant amounts of carbon in their leaves, branches, and roots.
And, when you buy and cook with high quality mid mountain Spanish olive oil, you support the farmers who care for the olive trees.