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Silvopasture Would Save 31.9 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050

U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr

Silvopasture ranks #9 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By 2050, the technique could eliminate 31.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide at a net cost of US$41.6 billion, leading to $699.4 billion in net savings.

Silvopasture is a system that sees the value of trees, instead of trying to remove them from the land, to raise livestock. Currently, trees and pasture work in harmony on more than 350 million acres around the world, and its popularity has grown in recent years across Central America, the United States, and Canada.

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Silvopasture is more effective than other grassland techniques, Drawdown explains, because it can sequester carbon through biomass and soil. And in addition to being a key climate solution, the system can be financially fruitful for farmers. Trees and other forage can produce nuts, mushrooms, maple syrup, and other products, while providing shade and protection from the elements for livestock. And manure can serve as a natural fertilizer, at no extra cost to farmers.

So far, Drawdown states, “growth of silvopasture has been limited by practical and cultural factors.” The long-term savings come with high initial costs, silvopasture requires specific technical expertise, and many farmers cannot imagine trees and pastures being integrated. All of which means that “silvopasture requires rethinking the ecology of land,” the chapter states.

Pathways to overcome these barriers include peer leadership, more awareness of the benefits of silvopasture, and loans from non-profit organizations or even the World Bank to help offset economic costs. But with the immediate issues addressed, silvopasture can not only fight climate change, but also help farmers adapt to its impacts.