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Grasslands: ecosystem useful for containing climate change

A FAO study explains how to improve carbon storage /Attachment

The first Global Assessment of Soil Carbon in Grasslands report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) analyzes the state of carbon stocks in the world's grasslands and highlights hotspots where action is needed to conserve or increase the soil's ability to store carbon.

In fact, after the oceans, soils are the second largest carbon store on Earth. The report therefore underlines how the "improvement of grassland management practices", especially when used for grazing animals, can "increase the capacity of soils to absorb carbon and help countries achieve their climate goals". The study found that if the Soc (Soil Organic Carbon) content at 0-30cm depth of grasslands increased by 0.3% after 20 years of applying management practices that improve soil organic carbon retention, they could be retained 0.3 tons C/ha per year.

"Assessing the current state of grasslands and their potential to hold soil carbon is critical to better understanding the benefits of grassland services for food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation," said Thanawat Tiensin , director of the FAO Animal Production and Health Division - This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of carbon stocks and potential offsets in grassland soils around the world.It can also be used as a basis for future work to improve soil carbon retention through sustainable grazing management”.

Soils can function as both sources and sinks of carbon: many grasslands, which contain about 20% of the world's Soc, have suffered losses due to human activities such as intensive livestock grazing, agricultural activities and other land-use activities. soil.

According to the report, most of the world's grasslands have a positive carbon balance. However, a negative balance has been found in East Asia, Central and South America and in Africa south of the Equator: this means that these stocks are likely to be declining due to human stresses combined with climatic conditions.

This trend, however, could be reversed by stimulating plant growth, capturing carbon in the soil and confining it to highly organic soils, such as semi-natural grasslands. In livestock management, this could also mean implementing rotational, planned or adaptive grazing measures for the animals.

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EFA News - European Food Agency