Reducing deforestation and improving livestock productivity: greenhouse gas mitigation potential of silvopastoral systems in Caquetá uri icon

abstract

  • Colombia's agriculture, forestry and other land use sector accounts for nearly half of its total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The importance of smallholder deforestation is comparatively high in relation to its regional counterparts, and livestock agriculture represents the largest driver of primary forest depletion. Silvopastoral systems (SPSs) are presented as agroecological solutions that synergistically enhance livestock productivity, improve local farmers' livelihoods and hold the potential to reduce pressure on forest conversion. The department of Caqueta represents Colombia's most important deforestation hotspot. Targeting smallholder livestock farms through survey data, in this work we investigate the GHG mitigation potential of implementing SPSs for smallholder farms in this region. Specifically, we assess whether the carbon sequestration taking place in the soil and biomass of SPSs is sufficient to offset the per-hectare increase in livestock GHG emissions resulting from higher stocking rates. To address these questions we use data on livestock population characteristics and historic land cover changes reported from a survey covering 158 farms and model the carbon sequestration occurring in three different scenarios of progressively-increased SPS complexity using the CO2 fix model. We find that, even with moderate tree planting densities, the implementation of SPSs can reduce GHG emissions by 2.6 Mg CO2e ha(-1) yr(-1) in relation to current practices, while increasing agriculture productivity and contributing to the restoration of severely degraded landscapes.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019