Soil carbon sequestration and the CDM: Opportunities and challenges for Africa
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This paper examines soil carbon sequestration in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa as part of regional and global attempts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and the possibility that the development of greenhouse gas mitigation projects will offer local ancillary benefits. The paper documents the improvements in agricultural practices and land-use management in sub-Saharan Africa that could increase agricultural productivity and sequester soil carbon. During the first five-year commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, only afforestation and reforestation projects will be eligible for crediting under the Clean Development Mechanism, but soil carbon sequestration and broader sink activities could become eligible during subsequent commitment periods. However, very few cost estimates of soil carbon sequestration strategies exist, and available data are not readily comparable. It is uncertain how large amounts of carbon could be sequestered, and it is unclear how well site-specific studies represent wider areas. It is concluded that there presently is a need to launch long-term (>10 years) field experiments and demonstration and pilot projects for soil carbon sequestration in Africa. It will be important to monitor all environmental effects and carbon "costs" as well as estimate all economic benefits and costs of projects.