The topic of this year’s event is climate change. Latvia has both ancient gardening traditions, as well as favourable environment – different soil types suitable for the growing of various cultures, the resources of peat and water are significant factors placing the country into a privileged situation in terms of plant growing sector. Approximately 50 plant nurseries are operating in each region of Latvia, including the 9 nurseries of AS Latvijas Valsts meži (JSC Latvian State Forests), which account for more than half of the entre turnover of plant market. The total area of plant nurseries in Latvia amounts to approximately 800 ha, which, thanks to the increase in the most valuable genetic material of forest plants, means indirect contribution to the resorption of emissions in the context of greenhouse gas (GHG). However, for the performance of precise calculations, including calculations regarding decorative plants, research is required.
During the event, a campaign will be held, where, in co-operation with the researchers of Lake and Peatland Research Centre (EPIC) and Latvian State Forest Research Institute (LSFRI) Silava, we will review how much CO 2 is sequestrated, when all sold plants are planted, on the basis of scientific research data. For instance, a pine ( Pinus) plant, if planted in the ground, sequestrates (absorbs) 1.16 grams of CO 2/per year, while, a fir ( Picea) – 0.64 grams of CO 2/ per year, while a birch – 1.58 grams of CO 2/per year. One square metre of a productive apple orchard can sequestrate as much as 403 grams of CO 2/per year.* In accordance with the measurements and methodology performed in Latvia, the experts of LSFRI Silava have determined that these figures are even more impressive: a birch absorbs 3.5 kg of CO 2/per year, a fir – 3.6 kg of CO 2/per year and a pine – 2.1 kg of CO 2/per year. Furthermore, an additional effect caused by the reproduction of valuable genetic material at tree nurseries conforms to: birch - 0.46 kg of CO 2/per year, fir - 0.47 kg of CO 2/per year, and pine - 0.27 kg of CO 2/per year. Meanwhile the sequestration by an apple orchard in terms of live biomass conforms to 7.7 kg of CO 2/per year per one tree over a period of 30 years, if 1,000 trees are planted per 1 ha.
The growers admit that climate change will definitely cause challenge, which is currently observed mostly in the form of changes in pest and disease ranges. Hazardous organisms that did not occur previously enter Latvia, and therefore, there is no experience of combating them.
“As temperature changes, the possibility of growing more plants that commence their vegetation period earlier may arise, however, the change does not occur so fast and winters with severe temperature fluctuations have not disappeared, therefore we cannot expect many newly introduced plants – viable plants with sufficient winter hardiness,” Andrejs Vītoliņš, the Chairman of the Board of Plant Growers’ Association, says. He indicates that climate change is a challenge for the industry and its ability to adapt and, if required, to change.