FAO-Backed Research Project Indicates Africa Could Be a Significant Carbon Sink
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25 November 2008: According to research conducted by CarboAfrica, an international research consortium of 15 institutions from Africa and Europe that includes the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Africa could be absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.

After a two-year study in 11 African countries on the continentent’s role in the […]

CarboAfrica project25 November 2008: According to research conducted by CarboAfrica, an international research consortium of 15 institutions from Africa and Europe that includes the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Africa could be absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.

After a two-year study in 11 African countries on the continentent’s role
in the global carbon cycle, researchers indicate that Africa accounts
for up to 50% in atmospheric variations of carbon dioxide between
seasons, and from year to year. This impact is due to changes in the
balance between carbon captured through photosynthesis by Africa’s vast
expanse of forests and savannas, and emissions from fires,
deforestation and forest degradation.
Riccardo Valentini, University of
Tuscia, Italy, and CarboAfrica project coordinator, explained that
evidence so far indicates that Africa seems to be a carbon sink,
“meaning that it takes more carbon out of the atmosphere than it
releases.” He further noted that, if confirmed, the study implies that
Africa “contributes to reducing the greenhouse effect, thus helping
mitigate the consequences of climate change.” The preliminary results
of the project, which will continue through 2010, were presented at the
Open Science conference on “Africa and the Carbon Cycle: the
CarboAfrica project,” held from 25-27 November 2008 in Accra, Ghana.
Speaking during the opening of the conference, Helena Semedo, FAO
Regional Office for Africa, stressed the role of agriculture in
reducing Africa’s carbon emissions. She called for efforts to “reach
out to farmers in Africa” to teach them “how to use their land and
their forests in such a way that Africa’s carbon cycle becomes our ally
in the battle against climate change,” noting that greenhouse gas
emissions from agriculture can be reduced using appropriate soil
management techniques, while increasing productivity. [FAO Press Release] [CarboAfrica Website]

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