Options for increasing carbon sequestration in West African soils: An exploratory study with special focus on Senegal
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The organic matter content of many soils in West Africa has been depleted due to overgrazing, agricultural mismanagement, deforestation and overexploitation of the natural resources. Degraded agro(eco)systems can be managed to increase carbon sinks in vegetation and soil, and to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere. The capacity for sequestering carbon will increase as annual precipitation increases, and generally as mean temperature decreases, provided the soil and terrain conditions are not limiting for crop (biomass) growth. The agroecological suitability of three pilot sites (Podor, Bambey and Velingara) proposed for soil carbon sequestration projects in Senegal, is assessed and the feasibility of various management options to increase organic carbon levels in the soil is discussed. For the future, a Land Resources Information System should be developed to consider detailed data on climate, soil and terrain conditions, status of soil degradation, and land-use systems for West Africa. Upon its linkage to a dynamic soil carbon model and a socioeconomic module, such an integrated system can be used to assess the ecotechnological and socioeconomic potential for carbon sequestration projects in the context of the Clean Development Mechanism proposed under article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If adopted, this mechanism could confer funds to West African countries for the sustainable use and conservation of their natural resources, thereby providing economic, environmental and societal benefits for local populations, while simultaneously contributing to climate change mitigation. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.