Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2004
Publication Date: 3/15/2004
Citation: Steiner, J.L. 2004. Workshop summary comments. In: Proceedings of the Land Management for Carbon Sequestration in West Africa Workshop, February 26-27, 2004, Bamako, Mali. 2004 CDROM. Interpretive Summary: Abstract Only.
Technical Abstract: Because of an inherent linkage in West African agricultural systems between carbon in the soil, productivity of the land, and the livelihoods for those who live on the land, soil carbon may be more valuable than carbon in other forms. The Workshop Organizers posed key questions that the speakers addressed. First, What do we know? What is our current capacity? Participants learned of practices that can enhance soil carbon in West African systems and that it may be possible to detect soil carbon changes in as little as two years. We can determine total carbon in a field, and there are promising advances in our ability to scale-up to a regional scale and reduce uncertainty of such determinations. Under the Kyoto Protocol, carbon trading is limited to afforestation projects, but markets supported by the World Bank and international corporations offer more flexibility to support agricultural carbon sequestration. Second, What do we not know? Participants learned of problems with some standard soil carbon methods, so consensus on new standard methods is required. Quantifying combined impacts of multiple conservation and agronomic practices within a landscape remains elusive. Geospatial statistical methods, remote sensing and modeling technologies can be applied to quantify soil carbon, but further integration of these technologies is required. Integration across economic, social, and biophysical aspects of these systems is also essential. We do not know how to facilitate widespread adoption of practices that appear promising in research. However, only when many farmers adopt new practices can there be a carbon product to take to the market. For potential adopters, the market value of soil carbon may be a secondary, rather than primary, benefit of a new practice. Third, looking forward, what are the research and development priorities? Criteria of buyers, capacity and interests of communities, and scientific and technical capabilities will all determine what is done and how carbon is valued. Progress requires an integrated ensemble of land management practices, monitoring programs, and scaling-up procedures to provide the basis for a marketable product. Training in model use and application, networking and data sharing must continue. Workshop participants can play a key role by conducting research at community, landscape, and watershed scales that are relevant in the carbon sequestration arena; communicating to national policy makers the potential of carbon markets to support development, and participating in global discussions. It is essential that the Sahel not be forgotten in evolving carbon and sustainable agriculture arenas; this Workshop highlighted the potential and a pathway for moving forward.