Carbon in dryland soils

Multiple essential functions

Issue 10 40 pp. • Published in June 2014

Author(s): Bernoux Martial, Chevallier Tiphaine

Soil organic carbon (SOC) has a key role in the overall behaviour of soils and agroecosystems. Increasing its content enhances soil quality and fertility, thus improving agricultural resilience and sustainability and, in turn, food security of societies. Soils also contain the largest pool of carbon interacting with the atmosphere. Agricultural and forestry systems that reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations by sequestering this carbon in biomass and in soil organic matter are carbon sinks. Combating desertification contributes to soil carbon sequestration, thus mitigating global warming, while contributing to sustainable agricultural management.

Soils have only recently become a global environmental issue, especially in the framework of three international environmental conventions. These conventions have interrelated issues, especially with respect to dryland regions—desertification, climate change and biodiversity loss. Few tangible policies have, however, been drawn up concerning carbon in dryland regions. The impact of agricultural, pastoral and forestry activities on the carbon cycle need especially to be taken into greater account.

In the current carbon market system, carbon volumes of agricultural and forestry sectors are low as compared to those of other sectors (industry, etc.). Moreover, these markets do not fully recognize all activities that are conducive to carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, particularly in drylands. Carbon markets have so far been focused on checking amounts of carbon sequestered, whereas it would be much easier, and verifiable, to directly promote recognized ‘carbon sequestering’ practices. Such a market could provide much more efficient operational leverage for modifying agricultural practices and setting up systems to protect soils in dryland regions.

    Bernoux Martial

    Bernoux Martial

    IRD soil scientist at Eco&Sols (Montpellier, France)

    Chevallier Tiphaine

    Chevallier Tiphaine

    Soil scientist IRD at Eco&Sols, Montpellier (France)


    Le carbone dans les sols des zones sèches

    Dossier du CSFD 10  •  2014

    Le carbone dans les sols des zones sèches

    Des fonctions multiples indispensables

Support

Editing, production and distribution of Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD are fully supported by this Committee thanks to the support of relevant French Ministries and AFD (French Development Agency).

  • Ministère de l'Education nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche
  • Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international
  • Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

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The opinions expressed in these reports are endorsed by the Committee.

Contact

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F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr




Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification

CSFD
Agropolis International
1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr

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Dossiers

thématiques du CSFD

Mankind is now confronted with an issue of worldwide concern, i.e. desertification, which is both a natural phenomenon and a process induced by human activities. Our planet and natural ecosystems have never been so degraded by our presence. Long considered as a local problem, desertification is now a global issue of concern to all of us, including scientists, decision makers, citizens from both developed and developing countries. Within this setting, it is urgent to boost the awareness of civil society to convince it to get involved. People must first be given the elements necessary to better understand the desertification phenomenon and the concerns. Everyone should have access to relevant scientific knowledge in a readily understandable language and format.

Within this scope, the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD) has decided to launch a series entitled Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD, which is designed to provide sound scientific information on desertification, its implications and stakes. This series is intended for policy makers and advisers from developed and developing countries, in addition to the general public and scientific journalists involved in development and the environment. It also aims at providing teachers, trainers and trainees with additional information on various associated disciplinary fields. Lastly, it endeavours to help disseminate knowledge on the combat against desertification, land degradation, and poverty to stakeholders such as representatives of professional, nongovernmental, and international solidarity organisations.

These Dossiers are devoted to different themes such as global public goods, remote sensing, wind erosion, agroecology, pastoralism, etc, in order to take stock of current knowledge on these various subjects. The goal is also to outline debates around new ideas and concepts, including controversial issues; to expound widely used methodologies and results derived from a number of projects; and lastly to supply operational and academic references, addresses and useful websites. These Dossiers are to be broadly circulated, especially within the countries most affected by desertification, by email, through our website, and in print. Your feedback and suggestions will be much appreciated!

Scientific editing and iconography: Isabelle Amsallem, Agropolis Productions
Design and production: Olivier Piau, Agropolis Productions