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Carbon sequestration role of savanna soils key to climate goals

01 / 11 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

Elephant on the savanna, Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo by Bobby Amoroso JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – When biologist Sally Archibald scans the vast savannas and grasslands of Kruger National Park some five hours northeast of her university office, she sees something many environmentalists and climate activists do not. “I live in a country with 3 percent forests,” says Archibald, who studies the dynamics of savanna ecosystems at Witwatersrand University. “It’s always seemed to me that these ecosystems are important and fascinating. But most people see savannas and grasslands as empty, useless things.” She sighs and looks away for a moment. She is a scientist, not an activist. Carefully, she adds, “I suppose I need to get better at explaining this. These impressions [people have] are wrong. We need these ecosystems as they are,” to curb climate change and protect biodiversity. That’s a message, she agrees, that needs to be understood by political leaders, negotiators and climate activists from 196 countries as they prepare to meet in Bonn, Germany for the 23rd annual United Nations Climate Summit (COP23) from Nov. 6-18. The most urgent goal of COP summit participants will be to ramp up the voluntary national carbon-reduction pledges made at the 2015 Paris summit, and to raise billions to assist vulnerable nations with climate adaptation strategies, such as renewable-energy installations and water-retention initiatives, objectives confirmed in teleconferences last week. COP23 participants will also likely again focus on forests in the race to store carbon and slow global warming. Yet…

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