A new study in Indonesia shows that for oil palm plantations to claim carbon neutrality, they can only convert land with vegetation cover holding carbon stocks equivalent to 40 Mg C ha-1. This strongly disputes recent advice by a committee of experts who claimed that the acceptable limit is conversion of land with up to 75 Mg C ha-1 under a High Carbon Stocks+ scheme.
Soil contains one fourth of the global carbon pool. It is also the most biologically diverse component of our planet with a wide array of living organisms of different sizes whose functional value includes cycling of nutrients and soil structure modifications that influence soil fertility and water retention, among others.
These attributes are telling of the potential and significant role that soil plays with regard to increasing soil carbon storage and reducing carbon emissions, both contributing to mitigate climate change; as well as increasing food production. Unfortunately, the role that soils play has not been well recognized and valued enough to feature prominently as other elements such as forests and agriculture in climate and environmental debates.
As the world marks World Food Day today, scientists are raising concern that the increase in wastage of consumable food across the globe will directly contribute to increased deforestation of tropical forests. Evidence shows that a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, with the developed countries taking a higher percentage (55%) of the blame.