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FAO and Chinese Partners Working to Unlock Carbon Finance for Herders and Grazers

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Rome - Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on grasslands to feed the livestock which are the foundation of their livelihoods. Yet poor land management has left large swathes of the world's grasslands degraded - an environmental problem which also has direct implications for livestock-dependent communities.

To help address these concerns, FAO and the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science (CAAS), the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and China's Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology (NWIPB) have for the past several years been working to link grasslands restoration efforts to international climate financing schemes.

Restoring degraded grasslands through more sustainable grazing practices and forage production can substantially improve animal feeds and productivity, benefiting herders and others who depend on livestock-rearing for income and food.

At the same time, restoring degraded grasslands can also trap large volumes of atmospheric carbon, mitigating climate change.

For this to happen, economic incentives are critical.

Carbon crediting schemes that pay projects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon do exist, in theory offering farmers the potential to earn money in exchange for adopting practices that help mitigate climate change.

But participation of agriculture in carbon markets - including those involving grazing-based livelihood systems - has so far been quite small.

One reason for this is the challenge of measuring how much carbon is being trapped as a result of improved farming practices. Only with reliable and affordable approaches measuring, reporting and verifying carbon sequestration can provide access to climate funds.

This challenge is now being addressed by a new methodology developed by FAO, CAAS, ICRAF and the NWIPB.   
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