Carbon Sequestration (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Sat Aug 2 12:30:48 EDT 1997

Subject: Re: Carbon Sequestration
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From: JODY BUTTERFIELD <jodybs at>


We got our data on the amount of carbon grasslands are able to sequester
(compared to forests) from (Kansas State University ecologist) John Blair,
who has done most of his work in tall-grass prairies (I believe). Our focus
is on grassland fires because these contribute far more carbon to the
atmosphere than the burning of rainforests, which are far less extensive,
and the contribution to global warming/climate change of grassland biomass
burning is largely being ignored by those seeking to address global warming.
Animal impact of course, sets up a chain reaction of events that help
increase organic matter (improved habitat for dung beetles being one of them). 


At 09:33 AM 7/31/97 -0700, Dick Richardson wrote:
>Jody, we did some "quick and dirty" calculations a few years ago regarding
>the sequestering of carbon as soil OM in prairies, and it was about half as
>much as a rainforest, but there was about twice as much area in grasslands.
>The turnover of carbon is far less rapid in grasslands also. Just how is
>this work you mentioned below being approached? It certainly is an
>important feature, and the effect of fire is just one part of the story.
>The dung beetles are another BIG factor in getting soil OM in deeper areas,
>and much faster than just plant roots. From a prairie restoration point of
>view, the dung beetles are a fantastic "accelerator" of the process, and,
>of course, need the "fresh manure spreaders" for their effects. (the last
>part is in Pat's article, as you know) So, I would also consider the joint
>role of animal impact, dung beetles, and reduced or avoidance of fire in
>the study.
>At 06:11 AM 7/31/97 -0700, Jody Butterfield wrote:
>>From: JODY BUTTERFIELD <jodybs at>
>>To:  Noel McNaughton
>>Dear Noel,
>>Just got the most recent issue of The Holistic Manager. Appreciate your
>>reasons for leaving the farm and how you made the decision.
>>I'm writing in response to your plans to interest Canadian farmers and
>>ranchers in selling carbon credits (based on the amount of carbon they are
>>able to sequester in soil organic matter) to coal/oil/gas companies.  In
>>your article you mention only forests as potential sites for sequestering
>>carbon, yet grasslands store twice as much carbon per acre of soil as
>>forests do. If you're talking to ranchers, most of whom have grasslands and
>>very little woodland, this is a big selling point!
>>Were you aware that here at the Center we are working on a project along
>>related lines?  In our case, we're merely attempting to document just how
>>much carbon we can sequester in grasslands when they are maintained by
>>livestock as opposed to fire. The project was conceived in Africa where
>>millions of acres of grassland are burned each year, causing so much
>>pollution that acid rain is now worse there than it is in many
>>industrialized countries. We're trying to show that there is a viable
>>alternative to fire (the animals) and that they can more than make up for
>>the carbon spewing into the atmosphere from fires (biomass burning is as
>>great a problem as fossil-fuel burning when it comes to global warming). The
>>project has since been enlarged to include a monitoring site in the U.S.
>>(New Mexico/Arizona) and in Australia (NSW). 
>>Please keep us posted on your efforts, and we'll do the same from our end.
>>All the best,
>>Jody Butterfield
>><jodybs at>
>>Center for Holistic Management
>>1010 Tijeras NW
>>Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102 USA
>>Tel: 505/842-5252
>>Fax: 505/843-7900
>R. H. (Dick) Richardson                     (512) 471-4128 office
>Zoology Dept.                                     471-9651 FAX
>University of Texas                               
>Austin, TX 78712	

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