Carbon sequestration

To eat meat or not to eat meat: that is the question

By Anna Sophia Doyle*

I was browsing through one of my favorite environmental news and commentary sites (favorite as it’s both intelligent but also hilarious when reporting on very serious issues such as climate, food, energy, etc.) and came across a great article on whether eating meat could be eco-friendly.

Having wrestled with the subject myself and in honor of it being Meatless Monday, I thought I’d share some if the article’s insights with the Development Roast readers as well as a few other thoughts and related links. Read More »

Transforming problems into opportunities by mimicking nature

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is about to end its 20th annual conference in Lima, Peru, and heads of state and negotiators from every country on Earth are fighting to get other countries to reduce their CO2 emissions as much as possible, in order to keep global warming below catastrophic levels.

This approach to tackling climate change has, as one might have expected, proven depressingly ineffective. Since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed on in 1997, CO2 emissions have increased steadily, with not the slightest hint of a slow-down. The level of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere has now reached 400 ppm (parts per million), which is more than ever before observed in the history of Homo Sapiens.

Fortunately, there are lots of creative, constructive and persistent people working on practical solutions for a happier, healthier, greener and more sustainable future. Of the thousands of inspiring, creative and constructive TED talks, I have selected three that focus on transforming our current climate change problems into opportunities by mimicking nature:

Read More »

Deforestation reduced – mission accomplished or too good to be true?

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

During the last decade, Bolivia had one of the highest per capita deforestation rates in the World (1). Apart from this being decidedly unkind to Mother Earth and exacerbating problems of wild fires, droughts and flooding in Bolivia, this also caused Bolivians to be among the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions in the World (approximately 11 t/CO2/person/year – more than almost all European countries and more than twice the global average) (2).

This was obviously a major problem in Bolivia, and at INESAD we have been working for several years on promoting policies to reduce deforestation. Thus, we should be thrilled by the recent news from ABT showing that Bolivia has reduced deforestation by 64% since 2010 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: ABT reports sharp reductions in deforestation in Bolivia between 2010 and 2013.
Source: La Razon, 23 July 2014 (

But it almost seems too good to be true. I suspect that everybody working in this area are asking themselves: Can this really be true?

Read More »

INESAD News: The Potential of Bamboo for Carbon Sequestration in Bolivia

INESAD NewsA newly-released INESAD Working Paper reveals how bamboo forests in Bolivia have a significant role to play in the global fight against climate change. The multi-author paper, entitled “A Measurement of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Guadua Angustifolia in the Carrasco National Park“, is based on a study of an unmanaged and previously unstudied bamboo forest. INESAD researchers found that this forest has the ability to store around 100 tons of carbon per hectare, in the stems, branches, and leaves of the bamboo, which is more than some species of tree such as Chinese Fir.

The carbon stored in a forest comes from the carbon dioxide (CO2) that it absorbs. CO2 is a harmful greenhouse gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which accumulates in the atmosphere and traps heat. This artificial change in the composition of the atmosphere is what causes climate change. Hence forests play a vital role in mitigating climate change, because they absorb CO2 which would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.  See Exactly How Do Trees Fight Climate Change? for more details about this process. Read More »

What Can Bamboo Do About CO2?

Efforts to thoroughly study the role that plants play in climate change mitigation are increasing. Most researchers focus on the promise of large, leafy forest trees to help remove carbon from the atmosphere; for example Lal (1998) in India, Chen (1999) in Canada, Zhang (2003) in China, and Monson ( 2002) in the United States. This is because, generally speaking, the bigger the plant, the more CO2 it absorbs – click here to see how plants do this – and trees are the most obvious large plant species. However, there are some very large non-tree plants in the world and increasing evidence points to a surprising grassy climate change warrior: bamboo.

One species of bamboo, the guadua angustifolia, found in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, has been shown to grow up to 25 meters in height and 22 centimeters in diameter, with each plant weighing up to 100 kilograms (Rojas de Sánchez, 2004). This doesn’t match the stature of many trees, but it is still big enough to be significant. It is not all about size, however. How fast a plant grows has a part in determining how much CO2 it can absorb in a given time. In this respect, bamboo wins hands-down: it grows faster than many trees, growing up to 1.2 meters per day. In fact, bamboo holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest growing plant. Read More »

Exactly How Do Trees Fight Climate Change?

Much is written about the need to reduce deforestation and replant the forests that have been logged for human use and economic development. This is because trees are needed for fighting climate change and vital to the very survival of the planet. But what is it exactly that makes trees and other plants so special?

Climate change is caused, at least partly, by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases which accumulate in the Earth’s atmosphere and trap heat. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, is the leading international body for assessing this phenomenon.

In their most recent Assessment Report from 2007, the IPCC reported that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most significant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, both in the sense of the amount of heat it traps and the quantity that is released into the atmosphere (mainly from the burning of fossil fuels). Forests are very effective ‘carbon sinks’, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and keeping it locked away for long periods of time. Therefore, some of the key strategies to alleviate the causes and effects of climate change recommended by the IPCC include efforts to reduce deforestation, while simultaneously increasing afforestation and reforestation: planting of forests where none were before and replanting areas where forest has been removed, respectively. Read More »


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