A review of transformative strategies for climate mitigation by grasslands

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Dec 10;799:149466. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149466. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Abstract

Grasslands can significantly contribute to climate mitigation. However, recent trends indicate that human activities have switched their net cooling effect to a warming effect due to management intensification and land conversion. This indicates an urgent need for strategies directed to mitigate climate warming while enhancing productivity and efficiency in the use of land and natural (nutrients, water) resources. Here, we examine the potential of four innovative strategies to slow climate change including: 1) Adaptive multi-paddock grazing that consists of mimicking how ancestral herds roamed the Earth; 2) Agrivoltaics that consists of simultaneously producing food and energy from solar panels on the same land area; 3) Agroforestry with a reverse phenology tree species, Faidherbia (Acacia) albida, that has the unique trait of being photosynthetically active when intercropped herbaceous plants are dormant; and, 4) Enhanced Weathering, a negative emission technology that removes atmospheric CO2 from the atmosphere. Further, we speculate about potential unknown consequences of these different management strategies and identify gaps in knowledge. We find that all these strategies could promote at least some of the following benefits of grasslands: CO2 sequestration, non-CO2 GHG mitigation, productivity, resilience to climate change, and an efficient use of natural resources. However, there are obstacles to be overcome. Mechanistic assessment of the ecological, environmental, and socio-economic consequences of adopting these strategies at large scale are urgently needed to fully assess the potential of grasslands to provide food, energy and environmental security.

Keywords: Adaptive multipaddock grazing; Agrivoltaics; Agroforestry; CH(4) fluxes; CO(2) fluxes; Climate change; GHG; N(2)O fluxes; Patch burn grazing; Reverse phenology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Grassland*
  • Humans