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Pastoral landscapes in the Sahel: a carbon balance with unexpected potential for climate change mitigation

Assouma M.H., Lecomte P., Corniaux C., Hiernaux P., Ickowicz A., Vayssières J.. 2019. Perspective (52) : p. 1-4.

DOI: 10.19182/agritrop/00083

In the Sahel, pastoralism capitalises on an extreme environment. Although it is accused of emitting excessive amounts of greenhouse gases per kilogram of milk or meat produced, a research study conducted in Senegal shows that pastoral landscapes can actually have a neutral carbon balance: emissions from animals are offset by carbon sequestration in soils and plants. These findings were obtained using an original evaluation method, known as ecosystem assessment, which integrates the use of the pastoral landscape as a whole, according to the seasons and the areas grazed by herds. These findings indicate that current standards for calculating feeding behaviour and methane emissions from ruminant digestion need to be revised downwards. Other implications are possible, such as improving the carbon balance through specific local practices and promoting these areas on the carbon market. Preserving this livestock system is also one way of fostering development and ensuring greater security in these regions.

Mots-clés : pastoralisme; gaz à effet de serre; cycle du carbone; séquestration du carbone; sahel; sénégal

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