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Volume 4, issue 3 | Copyright

Special issue: Regional perspectives and challenges of soil organic carbon...

SOIL, 4, 225-235, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Original research article 26 Sep 2018

Original research article | 26 Sep 2018

Challenges of soil carbon sequestration in the NENA region

Talal Darwish1,3, Thérèse Atallah2, and Ali Fadel1 Talal Darwish et al.
  • 1National Council for Scientific Research, Beirut, Lebanon
  • 2Faculty of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, Lebanese University, Dekwaneh, Lebanon
  • 3Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soil (ITPS), Global Soil Partnership (GSP), FAO, Rome, Italy

Abstract. The Near East North Africa (NENA) region spans over 14% of the total surface of the Earth and hosts 10% of its population. Soils of the NENA region are mostly highly vulnerable to degradation, and future food security will much depend on sustainable agricultural measures. Weather variability, drought and depleting vegetation are dominant causes of the decline in soil organic carbon (SOC). In this work the status of SOC was studied, using a land capability model and soil mapping. The land capability model showed that most NENA countries and territories (17 out of 20) suffer from low productive lands (>80%). Stocks of SOC were mapped (1:5 000 000) in topsoils (0–0.30m) and subsoils (0.30–1m). The maps showed that 69% of soil resources are shown to have a stock of SOC below the threshold of 30tonsha−1. The stocks varied between  ≈ 10tonsha−1 in shrublands and 60tonsha−1 for evergreen forests. Highest stocks were found in forests, irrigated crops, mixed orchards and saline flooded vegetation. The stocks of soil inorganic carbon (SIC) were higher than those of SOC. In subsoils, the SIC ranged between 25 and 450tonsha−1, against 20 to 45tonsha−1 for SOC. Results highlight the contribution of the NENA region to global SOC stock in the topsoil (4.1%). The paper also discusses agricultural practices that are favorable to carbon sequestration such as organic amendment, no till or minimum tillage, crop rotation and mulching and the constraints caused by geomorphological and climatic conditions. The effects of crop rotations on SOC are related to the amounts of above and belowground biomass produced and retained in the system. Some knowledge gaps exist, especially in aspects related to the impact of climate change and effect of irrigation on SOC, and on SIC at the level of the soil profile and soil landscape. Still, major constraints facing soil carbon sequestration are policy-relevant and socioeconomic in nature, rather than scientific.

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This paper is part of the GSP-ITPS effort to produce a global SOC map and update information on C stocks using old and new soil information to assess the potential for enhanced C sequestration in dry land areas of the NENA region. We used the DSMW from FAO-UNESCO (2007), focusing on organic and inorganic content in 0.3 m of topsoil and 0.7 m of subsoil, to discuss the human factors affecting the accumulation of organic C and the fate of inorganic C.
This paper is part of the GSP-ITPS effort to produce a global SOC map and update information on...