Biochar use in forestry and tree-based agro-ecosystems for increasing climate change mitigation and adaptation

Ilan Stavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study reviews the potential use of biochar as soil amendment in afforestation, reforestation, agroforestry, fruit tree orchards, and bio-energy plantations. Implementing this practice could sequester large amounts of carbon (C) over the long-term, potentially offsetting anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, and mitigating climate change. On a global scale, this practice could sequester between 2 and 109.2 Pg biochar-C in 1.75 billion ha of degraded and deforested lands and agroforestry systems. An additional considerable amount could be sequestered in the soil of fruit tree orchards and bio-energy plantations. The anticipated improvement in the quality of the biochar-amended soils is expected to enhance resilience to these land uses, increasing their adaptation capacity to climate change. Yet, specific questions still need to be addressed, for example, the impact of biochar on the availability of nitrogen and potassium for plants in acidic soils and under humid conditions, as well as the impact of biochar on soil and trees in alkaline soils and under Mediterranean or drier conditions. Also, a full assessment of health hazards and environmental risks related to the production of biochar and its application in soil is required. Other questions relate to the environmental and economic costs of biochar application. Therefore, life cycle assessments and economic calculations should be conducted on a site-specific basis and include the practices of feedstock collection, transportation, processing, and spreading. International actions should regulate biochar practice as an eligible means for funding under the C finance mechanism. Specifically, payments should be provided to landowners for accomplishing ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)
  • carbon sequestration
  • environmental regulations
  • land restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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