The World Agroforestry Centre has been involved in research with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science and China’s Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology (NWIPB) to develop a methodology for measuring carbon sequestration on sustainably managed grasslands.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on grasslands to feed their livestock, but poor land management has left large swathes of the world’s grasslands degraded. Sustainable grazing practices and forage production can restore degraded grasslands so that they are substantially more productive and also store large volumes of carbon.
To date, farmers who adopt more sustainable grazing practices have not been able to fully benefit from carbon crediting schemes because of a lack of reliable approaches to measuring, reporting and verifying how much carbon is stored through their improved farming activities.
The new methodology, which has been tested over several years using field data from a site in Northern China, has now received approval by the non-profit Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a voluntary greenhouse gas accounting programme used by projects around the world to verify and issue carbon credits in voluntary emissions markets.
It is estimated that herders in Northern China could sequester an average of 3 tCO2 per hectare of grassland each year over the next 20 years, through improved practices, such as reduction and rotation of grazing pressure on overstocked sites and the sowing of improved pastures and fodder crops close to households.
Certification of the tool offers new opportunities for project developers and farmers to implement grasslands restoration projects at a meaningful scale. The money received from carbon finance could be re-invested into long-term restoration activities that would improve the incomes and food security of grazing families.
Read the press release on Noodls: FAO and Chinese partners working to unlock carbon finance for herders and grazers