by the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

This event advanced the concept of mobilizing rural households to help reduce
emissions from inefficient biomass burning stoves and halt soil degradation by
using biochar, a by-product of high-efficiency stoves.

Barney Dickson, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), noted that most attention to
date has been on sequestration and storage in forests, but argued that carbon
storage in drylands is also important. He stressed that land degradation leads
to increased emissions through loss of biomass and soil erosion, and that
addressing this issue by changing land management practices can promote carbon
sequestration and contributes to combating desertification and climate change.
He described various management practices to improve carbon sequestration,
including: erosion control; afforestation; no-till farming; manure management.
He noted that weak institutions, limited infrastructure, and resource-poor
agricultural systems limit the capacity to undertake action.

Debbie Reed, International Biochar Initiative, explained that biochar is a
charcoal-like substance produced from the incomplete combustion of biomass in
an oxygen-limited environment, which improves soils and has multiple
environmental benefits. She said that the production of biochar is an ancient
practice which captures carbon from the burning of biomass during cooking. She
noted that biochar production systems are scalable and have appropriate
developed and developing country applications.

Robert Flanagan, Charion, presented on third-generation domestic stoves, which
have been made carbon negative through small changes in engineering. He
highlighted that more than two billion people rely on solid fuel for cooking
and that biochar from improved stoves has the potential to improve plant growth
in the form of soil health restoration and reduce dependence on chemical
fertilizers. He stressed the need to work on combustion and carbon-fixing
technologies, as well as to address cultural needs and cooking methods, which
are critical to success. He added that the cost of third generation stoves may
range from US$4-20, and that they can be produced locally.

Participants discussed: concerns for desertification due to the removal of
biomass from forests; the need to increase research into different soil
applications; issues regarding technology diffusion in developing countries;
the need for training and awareness raising; and transitioning to a low-carbon
economy while meeting the objectives of the UN Convention to Combat
Desertification (UNCCD).