Globally soils contain approximately three times as much carbon as the atmosphere (IUCN 2011) within its organic matter. The bioavailability of this carbon positively influences, or modifies the effect of, multiple soil properties and in particular biodiversity. Thereby soil carbon preservation is critical if we are to addresses the COP26 primary stratergy “to protect and restore ecosystems”.
To ensure sustainable soil use, disturbance of soil functional capacity during earthworks needs to be minimised. Poorly managed soil that has compacted in storage will have a degraded physical structure, and reduced capacity to store carbon and maintain above and below ground bodiversity. Such soils may no longer be appropriate for re-instatement into their intended end-use.
This research will be the basis of an MSc thesis which aims to assess the implications of soil storage on carbon cycling, with a particular focus on carbon within soil microorganisms. Soils in storage will be compared to restored soils and to various local soils that have not been affected by quarrying activities (analogy reference soils). The project will provide guidance on practice that will improve carbon sequestration potential of restored soils. Advice will include strategies that are likely to improve the storage of carbon in soil microorganisms. Future research will be identified to investigate proposed interventions to improve carbon sequestration and biodiversity.