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Lecture series in Ecology and Environmental Research SS 2023

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Dötterl
Professur für Bodenressourcen, ETH Zürich (Homepage)
Thursday, 25.05.2023 ,

Nature based solutions for climate mitigation in the Global South: When missing understanding for tropical soils and ecosystems meets socio-ecological reality

Finding alternative solutions to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions produced by industrial countries has been growing in popularity in recent years due to the lack of progress in transforming our economies towards carbon neutrality and net zero CO2. Thus, improving carbon storage in soils and the biosphere as a promising nature-based solution to combat climate change is receiving more and more attention with little understanding how this can be achieved globally and in a sustainable way.

Many of our expectations in finding nature-based solutions rely on vast, less developed –but nevertheless populated and rapidly changing– regions of the Global South. At the same time, concepts and assumptions about which solutions work for increasing long-term carbon capture in tropical ecosystems are based on knowledge gathered largely from the Global North in often fundamentally different environmental settings and different development history. 

In my talk I will illustrate how these knowledge gaps and our lack of understanding of tropical carbon and nutrient cycling mislead us into thinking that we can find easy solutions in the Tropics to mitigate climate change. I will pair my analysis with an outlook on the socioeconomic drivers behind land use change, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa as a constraint for nature based solutions.

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The BayCEER Colloquium serves as an interdisciplinary platform for students, academics and interested citizens: during the lecture period, guests and members of BayCEER give insights into their research, which can then be discussed in plenary and in a relaxed atmosphere during the post-colloquium.

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