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Recarbonization of Global Soils: A dynamic response to offset global emissions










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    Soils help to combat and adapt to climate change by playing a key role in the carbon cycle 2015
    Healthy soils provide the largest store of terrestrial carbon. When managed sustainably, soils can play an important role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon (carbon sequestration) and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Conversely, if soils are managed poorly or cultivated through unsustainable agricultural practices, soil carbon can be released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which can contribute to climate change. The steady conversion of grassland and forestland to cropland and grazing lands over the past several centuries has resulted in historic losses of soil carbon worldwide. However, by restoring degraded soils and adopting soil conservation practices, there is major potential to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases from agriculture, enhance carbon sequestration and build resilience to climate change.
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    Recarbonization of global soils - A tool to support the implementation of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture 2019
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    The implementation of proven Soil Organic Carbon (SOC)-centred Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) practices for maintaining carbon rich soils (peatlands, black soils, permafrost, etc.) and for sequestering more carbon in soils with such potential (croplands and degraded soils), would address the challenge of compensating global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Soil organic carbon sequestration has been shown to hold the largest sink potential in terrestrial ecosystems and agroecosystems. SOC-centred SSM practices could not only mitigate GHGs emissions but also provides multiple benefits such as enhancing food security and farm income, reducing poverty and malnutrition, providing essential ecosystem services (climate and hydrological regulation, biodiversity maintenance, and nutrient cycling, among others), contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and building resilience to extreme climatic events. RECSOIL is designed to address the key challenges humanity faces today within an enabling framework integrated by a series of institutions and commitments related to climate change and sustainability. The main objective of the programme is to support and improve the national and regional GHG mitigation and carbon sequestration initiatives.
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    Carbon emissions and removals from forests: new estimates, 1990–2020 2021
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    National, regional and global CO2 emissions and removals from forests were estimated for the period 1990–2020 using as input the country reports of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. The new Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates, based on a simple carbon stock change approach, update published information on net emissions and removals from forests in relation to (a) net forest conversion and (b) forest land. Results show a significant reduction in global emissions from net forest conversion over the study period, from a mean of 4.3 in 1991–2000 to 2.9 Gt CO2 yr−1 in 2016–2020. At the same time, forest land was a significant carbon sink globally but decreased in strength over the study period, from −3.5 to −2.6 Gt CO2 yr−1. Combining net forest conversion with forest land, our estimates indicated that globally forests were a small net source of CO2 to the atmosphere on average during 1990–2020, with mean net emissions of 0.4 Gt CO2 yr−1. The exception was the brief period 2011–2015, when forest land removals counterbalanced emissions from net forest conversion, resulting in a global net sink of −0.7 Gt CO2 yr−1. Importantly, the new estimates allow for the first time in the literature the characterization of forest emissions and removals for the decade just concluded, 2011–2020, showing that in this period the net contribution of forests to the atmosphere was very small, i.e., a sink of less than −0.2 Gt CO2 yr−1 – an estimate not yet reported in the literature. This near-zero balance was nonetheless the result of large global fluxes of opposite sign, namely net forest conversion emissions of 3.1 Gt CO2 yr−1 counterbalanced by net removals on forest land of −3.3 Gt CO2 yr−1. Finally, we compared our estimates with data independently reported by countries to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, indicating close agreement between FAO and country emissions and removals estimates. Data from this study are openly available via the Zenodo portal (Tubiello, 2020), with DOI https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3941973, as well as in the FAOSTAT (Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database) emissions database (FAO, 2021a).

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