RANKING AND RESULTS BY 2050 #28
9.28 GIGATONS REDUCED CO2
$26.8 BILLION NET COST
$709.8 BILLION NET SAVINGS

Strata are horizontal layers. The word’s Latin root means “something spread out or laid down,” like a blanket. These layers are one of the defining features of forests, from undergrowth to understory, from canopy to emergent—the tallest trees that peek out from the top of a tropical forest’s shady density and into the bright light above. Each layer rising up from the forest floor teems with life and activity. Multistrata agroforestry takes its cues from this natural structure, blending an overstory of taller trees and an understory of one or more layers of crops. Think of this as the Manhattan of food production, maximizing both horizontal and vertical space. If natural forests grow food for the species within them, multistrata agroforestry sets out to cultivate food for humans as well. The blend of plants varies by region and culture, but the spectrum includes macadamia and coco nut, black pepper and cardamom, pineapple and banana, coffee and cacao, as well as useful materials such as rubber and timber.

Because multistrata agroforestry mimics the structure of forests, it can deliver similar environmental benefits. Multistrata systems can prevent erosion and flooding, recharge groundwater, restore degraded land and soils, support biodiversity by proving habitat and corridors between fragmented ecosystems, and absorb and store significant amounts of carbon. Thanks to the many layers of vegetation supporting sequestration in both soil and biomass, an acre of multistrata agroforestry can achieve rates of carbon sequestration that are comparable to those of afforestation and forest restoration—2.8 per acre per year, on average—with the added benefit of producing food. At times, the sequestration rates for multistrata agroforestry plots can out-sequester nearby natural forests.

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Multistrata agroforestry cannot be implemented everywhere, but where it can, it promises a sizable impact. In addition to their high rates of carbon sequestration, these systems of cultivation are among the most energy efficient in the world. According to one study of traditional Pacific multistrata agroforestry, just 0.2 calories of energy produce 1 calorie of food. That kind of caloric efficiency, alongside maximizing production on small plots, makes multistrata agroforestry ideal for smallholders who live in densely populated areas. Market incentives and payment for ecosystem services could help those farmers overcome financial barriers and help realize the multilayered benefits of multistrata systems for people and climate.

IMPACT: Multistrata agroforestry can be integrated into some existing agricultural systems; others can be converted or restored to it. If adopted on another 46 million acres by 2050, from 247 million acres, currently, 9.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide could be sequestered. Average sequestration rate of 2.8 tons of carbon per acre per year is strong, as is financial return: $710 billion in net profit by 2050, on a $27 billion investment.

– Pages 46 – 47, Section (excerpt only) from book DRAWDOWN – THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE PLAN EVER PROPOSED TO REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING | EDITED BY PAUL HAWKEN

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