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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Carbon sequestration potential and the multiple functions of Nordic grasslands

Norderhaug, Ann; Clemmensen, Karina E.; Kardol, Paul; Thorhallsdottir, Anna Gudrun; Aslaksen, Iulie


Grasslands are important carbon sinks, but the underlying processes for their soil carbon sequestration potential are still not well understood, despite much attention given to this topic. In Europe, grasslands, especially semi-natural grasslands, are also important for promoting biodiversity. Moreover, recent global reports have highlighted the importance of biodiversity in supporting climate actions. In boreal and alpine regions in the Nordic countries, grasslands also play an important role in milk and meat production and food security. Certain grassland features and management practices may enhance their soil carbon sequestration potential. Semi-natural grasslands maintained by optimized livestock grazing are vital for aboveground biodiversity and show promise for belowground biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential. It is essential to assess the multiple functions of grasslands, particularly semi-natural grasslands, to facilitate the optimization of policy measures across policy areas. Climate and biodiversity policies should not counteract each other, as some do today. This essay addresses the multiple functions of grasslands and calls for more knowledge about carbon sequestration in Nordic grasslands. This will enable the management of these ecosystems to align with climate mitigation, maintain biodiversity, and satisfy the global need for increased food supply.


Grasslands; Semi-natural grasslands; Soil carbon; Climate change; Grazing; Greenhouse gases; Biodiversity; Food security

Published in

Climatic Change
2023, Volume: 176, number: 5, article number: 55
Publisher: SPRINGER