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Urban carbon sink

Cities are amongst the biggest contributors to carbon emissions because of widescale urbanisation, while also being highly vulnerable to resultant impacts of these emissions due to climate change impacts. Solutions that reduce or capture more carbon emissions than they release are called carbon sinks. Urban carbon sinks refer to a combination of solutions focused on maximising carbon capture and sequestration through the plantation of particular trees in urban and peri-urban green spaces, alongside existing or planned infrastructure. The solution can be combined with other solutions such as biochar production from green areas and garden waste to enhance carbon sequestration. Selecting tree species and managing the sink across the tree lifecycle is key to achieving the end objective of carbon sequestration. The focus should be on native species, which need minimal resources and have high survival rates.

Urban carbon sink can be well integrated as a strategic approach while planning and developing urban green spaces. Cities may introduce a policy framework outlining appropriate tree species, financing and incentive models, and operating model for development of urban green spaces (e.g. parks, parklets, urban forests, private green areas). Apart from maximising carbon sequestration, urban carbon sinks have numerous direct benefits such as reducing effect of urban heat island effect by increasing shadow surface and improving air quality through the removal of harmful gases and particulate matter from atmosphere. Additionally, these green spaces also provide many ecosystem benefits such as improving human health and well-being, regulating storm water infiltration, enhancing biodiversity  in the area, improving economic value and creating livelihood opportunities for local community, recreation and nature education among others.

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Air qualityClimate resilienceGreen areasNature based solutionsCarbon capture
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