Agro-forestry could reduce global warming, experts say
An Article by Fredrick Nzwili

Reviewed by Geri Dineen, March 31, 2001

The International Centre for Research on Agro-Forestry reports that planned, consistent planting of trees may reduce poverty in developing countries while fighting the current trends in global warming. Recent studies indicate that transforming low productivity croplands to agro-forestry systems increases the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere and returned to the soil and biomass.

Trees in the sun
Trees can rebuild the organic structure of topsoil.

The agro-forestry system is spreading quickly in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; developed countries have also taken note of the potential benefits. Afforestation is increasing in high rainfall areas of developing countries where growing populations have lead to an upsurge in land clearing for agricultural use. The demand for tree products has created an economic opportunity for poor farmers.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that some agro-forestry systems may trap three times more carbon than do the same area of croplands and grasslands, and at least 60% as much as same areas of newly planted and re-growing forests. Trees in natural forests only soak up carbon when they are growing. Preventing deforestation stops release of stored carbon, but it does not decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere.

Many agro-forestry systems use fast growing trees that fix nitrogen, restore soil fertility, and improve soil physical properties. A major part of the soil restoration process involves recovery of organic based nutrients cycle through replenishment of soil organic matters (about half of this is carbon). This process withdraws carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (where it contributes to global warming), and stores it in the agro-ecosystem (where it contributes to is sustainability).

Submitted to and posted by Anthony Benoit
April 26, 2001

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