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Forestry-based carbon sequestration projects in Africa: Potential benefits and challenges

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Carbon sequestration through forestry and agroforestry can help mitigate global warming. For Africa, carbon sequestration also represents an opportunity to fund sustainable development through financial inflows. However, with a low share of global carbon trade, there are strong concerns that African countries are losing out on this valuable opportunity. Through a comprehensive review of 23 carbon sequestration projects across 14 countries, this paper discusses ways to overcome critical challenges to scale up carbon investments in Africa. These projects are expected to sequester 26.85 million tCO2 beyond the baseline situation. Within the continent, East Africa is the preferred destination for carbon investors. Most projects are non-Kyoto compliant and represent voluntary emission reductions. While project benefits such as increased local incomes and improved natural resources are promising, there are concerns that conversion of grasslands into tree plantations can harm local ecosystems. Insecure land tenure constrains new investments and increases the risk that local communities will lose access to forests. Another challenge is that projects with smallholders have high transaction costs. These costs can be overcome by building strong community institutions and simplifying project guidelines. To attract more projects, African governments will need to build their capacity to identify relevant opportunities.
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Keywords: Africa; CDM; Carbon markets; Carbon sequestration; Forestry; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA 2: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), United Nations Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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