How Carbon Removal Is Helping Solve Bush Encroachment In Africa

How Carbon Removal Is Helping Solve Bush Encroachment In Africa? - Carbon Herald
Credit: Omiti Biochar website

As any ecosystem, Africa’s savannas are not deprived of environmental hazards and risk factors. A common problem in the region the locals have been confronting for the last couple of decades is the so-called bush encroachment, representing the invasion of aggressive undesired bushes and other woody species that out-compete grasses. The phenomenon creates areas of thick invasive vegetation that makes the land hard or impossible to access.

Bush encroachment leads to serious negative consequences for the area that include:

  • Decrease in grassland;
  • Decrease in biodiversity;
  • An increase in land degradation and deterioration;
  • The degradation of the functions and structures of ecological ecosystems;
  • A decrease in rangelands’ livestock carrying capacity; 
  • The displacement of wildlife;
  • Impacts negatively groundwater recharge;
  • The decrease in food security and livelihoods in rural communities;
  • A decrease in local tourism. 
Credit: Omiti Biochar

Most of the causes of this hazard are man-made like climate change and increase in atmospheric CO2, overgrazing, fire suppression, the cutting of large trees by humans which fuels bush encroachment and the reduction and absence of large mammals caused by illegal hunting and trafficking.

A company in Namibia – Omiti Biochar, is fighting this problem while also accelerating biochar production in the region, soil health and ecosystem restoration. The initiative builds commercially and financially stable biochar carbon removal projects revolving around partnerships with rural communities and conservancies in Namibia.

Relevant: New Investment From Biochar Life To Accelerate Adoption Among Small Farmers In Africa

Omiti Biochar utilizes Namibia’s bush resources to reduce encroacher bush in a holistic manner and produce biochar from it, that it uses for increasing soil health and the various benefits related to biochar utilization including ecological, social, and economic. Biochar is also an ideal soil nutrient for a dry country like Namibia.

“In Namibia, with its diverse communal structures, we are bound together with our dependence on the environment.  If we do not address the problem of aggressive growing bush we run the risk of losing millions of hectares of grazing land that could in turn feed the communities,” commented for Carbon Herald, Kaulinge Kaulinge from Omiti Biochar.

According to Omiti Biochar, land the size of Sweden or Germany (between 300,000 and 450,000 km2) in Namibia is now bush encroached which leads to a decrease in available land for agriculture which in tern, adds to poverty, pressures and inequality in the country. 

The company is implementing a holistic approach to integrated bush management control which involves various preventive and restorative measures. Some of them are training and coaching on interventions to avoid bush encroachment, interventions that reduce bush densities, and follow-up interventions that prevent re-encroachment. Omiti’s team members undergo theoretical and practical training delivered by the Namibia Biomass Industry Group.

Omiti’s biochar product can be used in a wide range of applications like for agriculture, mining reclamation (a process by which adverse environmental effects are minimized and mined lands are returned to the beneficial original landscape) and livestock farming. The product called Omiti Inoculated Biochar is also pre-loaded with a mixture of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.

The company’s projects in Namibia are known as “From Bush to Biochar” and have been launched in partnership with another biochar company that is active in tropical regions – Planboo. 

Relevant: Planboo And Omiti Biochar Launch ‘From Bush To Biochar’ Initiative In Namibia

The projects aim to provide new opportunities for local residents via sustainable encroacher bush harvesting and carbon credit generation. They exist to address the lack of financial incentives for rural communities to have to reduce the stress on land and tackle this environmental hazard. They also address the inadequate income base for communities, serving as a source of livelihood through sustainable jobs creations. 

“Enabling local communities to be part of the global solution toward an understanding of the value of carbon sequestration, must be viewed as one of the most crucial steps that can be used in developing countries to promote sustainable resource use,” added Kaulinge Kaulinge.

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