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UN soil carbon survey aims to help Tanzania reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano
FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

UN soil carbon survey aims to help Tanzania reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping Tanzania determine how much carbon is stored in forests and forest soils, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

More than a third of Tanzania is forested, but almost one per cent of the country’s forest is being lost annually, according to a news release issued by the Rome-based FAO.

Deforestation, forest degradation or changes in forest management practices can release carbon from soil to the atmosphere, thus contributing to climate change. It is estimated that deforestation and degradation in developing countries account for nearly 20 per cent of global carbon emissions.

“The forest soil survey, the first of its kind in Tanzania, was designed to provide unbiased estimates of the soil carbon stock in the country,” said FAO Forestry Officer Anssi Pekkarinen.

“It will also help experts to further develop a methodology for assessing the changes in carbon stock,” he added. “The project will allow the government to make informed decisions, which will result in an increase rather than a loss of carbon stocks.”

The FAO soil survey project for Tanzania involves 16 field teams which have been working for two years, collecting data from 3,400 sites. Soil sampling is being carried out on one-quarter of these sites and the samples are being analyzed in a local laboratory.

The UN has been calling for countries to take action under its Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation initiative (REDD) initiative – an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

The Tanzania soil survey project was presented today at the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Bonn, Germany.