Carbon sequestration from common property resources: Lessons from community-based sustainable pasture management in north-central Mali
Moore, Keith M.
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Carbon sequestration in soils has been presented as a potential mechanism to enhance productivity in semi-arid lands in Africa while contributing to the mitigation of greenhouse emissions. Most of the literature, however, focuses on assessing the capacity of existing technology to sequester carbon in soils. There is much less discussion in the literature on the social and institutional elements that need to be in place to realize the potential benefits of carbon sequestration. This paper contributes insights in this direction by analyzing a case of community-based pasture management in north-central Mali. The case study challenges common assumptions in carbon sequestration efforts, namely that land resources are devoted to a single use by resident users; have distinct boundaries and fall within identifiable territorial and administrative jurisdictions, and are subject to widely recognized claims and free of conflict. We suggest that this is not always the case. Findings indicate that carbon sequestration projects centered on rangelands need to allow for flexibility in livestock movements and resource availability and to account for the diverging interest of multiple stakeholders, including different types of pastoralists and farmers. We conclude that social capital formation and conflict management are key elements of a carbon sequestration strategy.