DRC soil carbon paper presented at Global Soil Week

Joseph Zambo presenting at Global Soil Week in Kenya.

Joseph Zambo presenting at Global Soil Week in Kenya.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stores a massive amount of globally important soil carbon, according to research that was presented at Global Soil Week in Kenya by Joseph Zambo, Forests and Climate Change Coordinator for Projet Équateur, the DRC outreach program of Woodwell Climate Research Center (formerly Woods Hole Research Center).

The 2019 Global Soil Week conference, held May 26–30 in Nairobi, focused on the increasingly urgent need for inclusive investments in sustainable land management. Zambo’s presentation was titled “Emissions reductions programs in the DRC: governance lessons from Projet Équateur for the conservation of soils.”

Woodwell Climate’s paper, authored by Kathleen Savage, Dr. Jonathan Sanderman, and Dr. Glenn Bush, details how DRC’s soil contains more carbon than all of the country’s forest biomass—more than 26 billion tons, according to the best available estimates. But land use can drive rapid changes in soil carbon levels, and studies show DRC soils have already lost as much as 1.6 billion tons of carbon due to land use activities.

Despite this importance, soil carbon management and monitoring is not explicitly included in the DRC’s nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, although they are narrowly considered in their contributions to forest-based emissions reference levels. Woodwell Climate is developing research priorities to reconcile soil carbon and productivity in agricultural systems. Critically, we seek to find avenues to integrate these issues in climate monitoring and emission reductions programs through participation in, and the development of, national and regional networks for education, training and capacity building.

“To keep climate-disrupting carbon safely locked in DRC’s soil, we need more integrated landscape management (forest and agricultural land)  to slow or even reverse the loss of soil carbon. Improving soil carbon levels contributes directly to both climate stabilization and human development by enhancing agricultural productivity and food security.” Dr. Bush said.

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