Zero deforestation, deforestation free, carbon neutral, climate smart and a host of other terminologies

 

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“Slash-and-burn land clearing of old rubber agroforest – such practices can continue under ‘deforestation-free’ claims. Photo credit: Meine van Noordwijk/ICRAF

Attention to detail is necessary for zero deforestation intentions to succeed, say scientists

With the realization that climate change is real, consumers are demanding products that come from responsible manufacturing processes. But do market branding terms such as zero deforestation, deforestation free, carbon neutral, climate smart have any meaning? A new book by the European Tropical Forest Network investigates if deforestation-free claims are genuine or simply designed to influence purchase decisions.

Consumers worldwide are becoming aware of how manufacturing processes contribute to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and in the long term lead to climate change. With this knowledge, they are demanding products that come from responsible value chains, right from the point of the production and extraction of raw materials to delivery at retail points. Manufacturers have responded to this call by consumers by using labels such as zero deforestation, deforestation free, carbon neutral, climate smart and a host of other terminologies.

Methods used by UNFCCC to account for emissions focus on the supply side, based on country land area and production systems and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). However, a new study suggests that by using demand-side accounting, looking at human population and per capita emissions based on lifestyle, individually determined contributions to climate mitigation can complement nationally determined contributions.

“Labelling products as ‘deforestation-free’ as an attempt to satisfy consumers’ demand only takes into consideration one side of the production chain without consideration for the connection with other drivers of deforestation,” said Dr. Meine van Noordwijk, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre and lead author of an introductory paper.

Making the connection between deforestation and the economy

The study explored this connection from seven perspectives: when, how and why zero deforestation claims arise in global trade; how forest definitions relate to zero deforestation claims; the degree of variation in ‘footprints’ of equivalent products; tracking products that go through multiple market transactions as opposed to easy-to-follow vertically integrated value chains; interaction of all participants in totality in a value chain without isolation of those that are responsible producers; personal consumer decisions in relation to lifestyle choices, dietary changes and waste reduction that may have a bigger effect than simply choosing products with smaller carbon footprints; and how improved productivity and value chains can contribute to green economies.

Read the full article: Agroforestry World

Plants, soil and climate change

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Data was provided from CEH’s climate change manipulation experiment, which has been running for 18 years in Cloceanog forest, a wet Welsh upland site with a peat layer resulting from seasonal waterlogging. Credit: Rachel Harvey

 

Future climate change will affect plants and soil differently

A new study has found that soil carbon loss is more sensitive to climate change compared to carbon taken up by plants. In drier regions, soil carbon loss decreased but in wetter regions soil carbon loss increased.

Date:
March 7, 2017
Source:
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Summary:
A new study has found that soil carbon loss is more sensitive to climate change compared to carbon taken up by plants. In drier regions, soil carbon loss decreased but in wetter regions soil carbon loss increased. This could result in a positive feedback to the atmosphere leading to an additional increase of atmospheric CO2 levels.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Forests store more carbon after logging due to favourable climate

 

 

Study maps carbon recovery after Amazon logging

by Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade

Speed read

  • Selective logging improves carbon absorption by remaining trees
  • Research analysed 133 forest plots in 13 sites across Amazon rainforest
  • Forests from northern sites store more after logging due to favourable climate

Trees in the northern part of the Amazon rainforest recover their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere more quickly after selective logging compared with trees in the south where the climate is less favourable, a study reports.

Published in the journal eLife last month (December 20), the research assessed the dynamics of CO2 absorption in parts of the Amazon after they had been through selective logging — a practice where only the most valuable and biggest trees are cut down and collected.

“The low-impact, selective cutting of trees is vital to limiting damage to large, unharvested trees, which are critical for forest recovery.”

William Laurance, James Cook University

The Amazon rainforest accounts for up to 30 per cent of the total CO2stored by forests globally. But every year, selective logging contributes to the release of a big part of this stored carbon, contributing to global warming.

These emissions are cancelled out in the medium term, thanks to the carbon dynamics of the forests themselves: the remaining trees — those not harvested — and young trees — which regenerate naturally after logging— assimilate atmospheric carbon again.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

How to store CO2 underground ?

 

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A core sample from a carbon storage project in Washington state showed that carbon dioxide injected deep underground into basalt rock turned into the carbonate mineral ankerite in less than two years. Credit: American Chemical Society – https://images.sciencedaily.com/2016/11/161118105540_1_540x360.jpg

Storing carbon dioxide underground by turning it into rock

Date:
November 18, 2016
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In November, the Paris Climate Agreement goes into effect to reduce global carbon emissions. To achieve the set targets, experts say capturing and storing carbon must be part of the solution. Several projects throughout the world are trying to make that happen. Now, a study on one of those endeavors has found that within two years, carbon dioxide injected into basalt transformed into solid rock.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: SCIENCE DAILY

More Effective Carbon Fixation

 

 

Researchers Engineer Biosynthetic Pathway for More Effective Carbon Fixation

A diagram of the carbon cycle, showing how carbon moves around the planet.(Credit: U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute)

It is a known fact that different varieties of organisms on earth extract enzymes to convert CO2 into organic compounds such as sugars (e.g. plants convert CO2 via photosynthesis). However, attempts at exploiting such potentials to convert CO2 into products of high value, e.g. renewable chemicals and biofuel, have not been successful enough. Although the increasing concentration of atmospheric CO2 is an issue, scientists view it as an opportunity.

A group of researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany, have leveraged the DNA synthesis expertise of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) to reverse engineer a biosynthetic pathway to enable more effective carbon fixation.

The innovative pathway is formed with a new CO2-fixing enzyme that can convert CO2 close to 20 times faster than the most prevalent natural enzyme that captures CO2 in plants by making use of sunlight as energy. The research work was reported in the journal Science, in the 18 November, 2016 issue.

We had seen how efforts to directly assemble synthetic pathways for CO2-fixation in a living organism did not succeed so far. So we took a radically different, reductionist approach by assembling synthetic principal components in a bottom-up fashion in a test tube.

Tobias Erb, MPI

The group started by working on multiple theoretical CO2-fixation paths that could lead to continuous carbon cycling. However, they did not discontinue the study there. “We did not restrict our design efforts to known enzymes, but considered all reactions that seemed biochemically feasible,” Erb said.

Read the full article: AZO Cleantech

Carbon sink by trees on agricultural land

 

Photo credit: CIAT

Trees on agricultural land sink four times more carbon

by

Deborah Bossio: Co-author of the study and CIAT’s Director of Soil Research., CIAT

http://blog.ciat.cgiar.org/11559/

Trees grown on agricultural land significantly contribute to global carbon budgets, say authors in this recent study.

If carbon from trees grown on agricultural land was well accounted for, total carbon estimates for agricultural land would be more than four times higher than they currently are, they add.

This is good news, and getting better: between 2000 and 2010, tree cover on agricultural land increased –three percent, resulting in a 4.6 percent increase in biomass carbon globally.

Yet while the importance of carbon stored by forests is widely recognized, carbon stored by trees on agricultural land has been much ignored, authors say.

Soil carbon: benefits of sequestration

The soil organic carbon pool is enormous – estimated to be two to three timeshigher than in the atmosphere. The additional carbon that can be stored as soil organic matter is also huge – up to 1.2 Gigatons per year in top soils on agricultural lands alone – another unexploited, under-appreciated carbon sink.

 

The impacts of tropical deforestation will be felt for many years to come.

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

This graph shows modeled annual deforestation rates from 1950 to 2009 in five-year intervals.- Credit: Rosa et al./Current Biology 2016

Effects of past tropical deforestation will be felt for years to come

Source: Cell Press

Summary:

Even if people completely stopped converting tropical forests into farmland, the impacts of tropical deforestation would continue to be felt for many years to come. That’s the conclusion of researchers who have used historical rates and patterns of tropical deforestation around the globe to estimate the resulting carbon emissions and species losses over time.

Read the full story: Science Daily

More extreme droughts could negatively affect carbon sequestration.

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

A new article explains that understanding the seasonality of photosynthesis can help scientists assess whether or not the Amazon is under stress and how it handles and recovers from stress.
Credit: © Pomaikai / Fotolia

Rainforest greener during ‘dry’ season

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

Summary:

At 2.7 million square miles, the Amazon Jungle is the world’s largest rainforest. Researchers now believe the rainforest has different levels of photosynthesis, with more during the dry season. They report that more extreme droughts due to climate change could negatively affect the rainforest’s ability to sequester carbon through photosynthesis.

Read the full story: Science Daily

Drought and Amazon carbon sink

Photo credit: Science Daily

Fieldwork in the Amazon.
Credit: University of Exeter

Drought stalls tree growth and shuts down Amazon carbon sink, researchers find

Source: University of Exeter

Summary:

A recent drought completely shut down the Amazon Basin’s carbon sink, by killing trees and slowing their growth, a ground-breaking study has found.

Read the full story: Science Daily

Tree cover on agricultural land and carbon budgets

 

Photo credit: Agroforestry World

Faidherbia and tomatoes on a farm in Salima District, Malawi. Photo by Tracy Beedy/World Agroforestry Centre

Trees on farms: the missing link in carbon accounting

BY

While tropical forests continued to decline, a remarkable change is happening: tree cover on agricultural land has increased across the globe, capturing nearly 0.75 Gigatonnes carbon dioxide every year. A new study titled Global Tree Cover and Biomass Carbon on Agricultural Land: The contribution of agroforestry to global and national carbon budgets provides insights into the patterns of this tremendous change at global, regional and national scales.

According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture and land-use change account for about 24% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change will also have strong impacts on food security in the long-term. Therefore agriculture needs to reduce its climate footprint. But a recent study has shown that the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from crop and livestock production is limited. At the same time, large forest areas, primarily in the tropics, are still being converted into agricultural land to feed the world’s growing population.

For these reasons, agricultural practices that can significantly reduce carbon emissions are in high demand.

Trees on agricultural lands – also known as agroforestry systems – have the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation while improving livelihoods and incomes and providing invaluable ecosystem services at the same time. The World Bank estimates that globally 1.2 billion people depend on agroforestry farming systems, especially in developing countries. However, trees on agricultural lands are not considered in the greenhouse gas accounting framework of the IPCC.

Read the full article: Agroforestry World

Shall we cut them all ?

 

Photo credit: FAO

Photo: IRIN/Charles Akena

Trees contribute to reducing carbon footprints even after being cut down – UN report

Forests can contribute greatly to the fight against climate change even after trees have been logged, according to a new United Nations report which looks at the impact of wood products on carbon storage.

“Forests are at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies, not only because of their double role as sink and source of emissions, but also through the wider use of wood products to displace more fossil fuel intense products,” the Assistant Director-General for Forestry at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), René Castro-Salazar, said from Rome, where she is participating in the UN agency’s World Forest Week.

According to FAO, the report – Forestry for a Low-carbon Future: Integrating forests and wood products in climate change strategies – is aimed at highlighting a “virtuous cycle” that exploits the life-cycle of wood products to boost the ability of forests to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere.

Trees lock carbon in their leaves, branches and soils, while deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 12 per cent of worldwide gas emissions.

Promoting wood as a renewable energy source may seem counter-intuitive, but 1.86 billion cubic metres of wood – more than half the world’s wood output – is already used for that purpose, according to the report.

More directly, when wood is transformed into furniture, floors, doorways or beams to be used in construction, it does not instantly oxidize but continues to store the carbon it took in as a tree.

So the framing in a house might store carbon for up to 100 years, a dining room table less than 30, and paper a few years. The carbon is only released back into the atmosphere when the wood product is burnt or decays.

The report – the end result of collaboration among more than 100 experts – was designed primarily for policy-makers and experts, but is also tailored for architects and the energy industry.

Shifting sands: putting carbon back into soils

 

Photo credit: CGIAR

A scientist conducts soil testing at the Selian Agricultural Research Institute, Arusha, Tanzania.Photo Credit: Georgina Smith/CIAT

Evaluating the effectiveness of soil carbon sequestration

The world has a carbon problem, and we all know it. Tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere every day, contributing significantly to climate change. But slowing the rate of emissions will be no easy feat. In order to mitigate its effects, scientists are looking at alternative ways of dealing with the issue, such as carbon sequestration.

A moving target

In recent years, carbon sequestration has gained tremendous momentum and national andinternational initiatives have been taken up. But as to exactly how much of this carbon can be mopped up through sequestration is up to debate. Some scientists believe that indeed all anthropogenic emissions could be offset in such a way, while others believe only a few percent can be.

Certain key factors contribute to this uncertainty amongst the scientists. In soil carbon sequestration specifically, where organic matter such as manure, and compost are added to the soil, there are three major factors that influence its potential:

  • The dynamic nature of soil from place to place and over time
  • Variances between agricultural practices that influence the soil’s ability to act as a carbon sink
  • The significant changes to agricultural management practices that would need to be undertaken such as no-till agriculture. Globally, the adoption of such practices by farmers will take time.

Soil carbon? There’s an app for that!

To address these issues, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) created an app to help farmers and scientists calculate a soil’s current amount of sequestered organic carbon, as well as the quantitative impact of soil conservation practices on sequestration over time and at different scales.

Read the full article: CGIAR-THRIVE