Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2007
Publication Date: 7/15/2007
Citation: McCarty, G.W.,Doraiswamy, P.C., Akhmedou, B., Konstantin, P. 2007. Potential for soil carbon sequestration in Central Kazakhstan. In: R. Lai, M. Suleimenov, B.A. Stewart, D.O. Hansen, P. Doraiswamy, editors. Climate Change and Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in Central Asia. London, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis. p. 413-418. Interpretive Summary: As a result of the “Virgin Lands” program begun by the Soviet Union in the 1950’s, over 30 million hectares (Mha) of native steppe in Kazakhstan were cultivated to wheat production. This transformed an ecosystem that previously supported nomadic grazing into cropland that supplied over 25% of wheat demand within the Soviet Union. As a result of this activity large areas of marginal land were brought into crop production and this led to wide-scale degradation of soils in addition to excess use of fertilizers and large irrigation projects that caused formation of saline soils and water pollution. With breakup of the Soviet Union in early 1990’s, much of this cropland has been abandoned. This study assesses the feasibility to sequester atmospheric carbon in these abandoned fields under a Drylands Management Project funded by the World Bank. The results showed that activities of the project have strong likelihood of resulting in substantial carbon sequestration within the Shetsky region.
Technical Abstract: The World Bank Kazakhstan Drylands Management Project has the goal of restoring degraded soils associated with abandoned croplands in Kazakhstan. Global markets for carbon sequestration are likely to grow with continued implementation of international agreements such as Kyoto as well as those expected to follow. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility carbon sequestration projects within the Shetsky region of Kazakhstan. To perform this analysis, we overlaid detailed maps of landuse and soil ecotypes to estimate amounts of land area which should remain in crop production or converted to range/pasture land. This analysis used estimates of carbon sequestration potential for the converted lands to assess impact landuse conversion activities under the Drylands Management Project. The analysis indicated that the region has substantial capacity for increased soil carbon storage with conversion of production fields that have degraded soils. Activities of the Drylands Management Project have strong likelihood of resulting in substantial carbon sequestration within the Shetsky region. This project can serve as a prototype for other carbon sequestration projects implemented in the Central Asia region.