Maldive Islands Using Coconuts to Capture Carbon


Photo credit: MoIngl via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Maldives made headlines earlier this year when they vowed to become the first carbon neutral nation by 2020. In an attempt to inch closer towards that goal, the island nation is trying some seriously unorthodox ways to cut carbon. Among them? A plan to use coconuts as fertilizer to capture carbon.The scheme involves using coconut shells to create biochar, which would be used as an organic fertilizer. According to the BBC,

The pilot project aims to produce biochar using bio-waste, including coconut shells, which are abundantly available in the archipelago. Biochar is produced through the "slow cooking" (pyrolysis) of plant wastes. The resulting black char is rich in carbon and can be mixed with soil as a fertiliser.
The Maldives' partner in the plan, a UK company called Carbon Gold, claims that biochar is 'carbon negative'--and that it's an effective way to remove carbon from the atmosphere while simultaneously eliminating the need to import fertilizer from abroad. Which, of course, costs carbon to do. As an additional bonus, the coconut biochar is believed to increase soil fertility, too.

coconut biochar photo

Coconut biochar. Image via BBC

Carbon Gold claims the biochar will lock carbon away in the soil for years, as opposed to allowing to be released in the atmosphere: "Waste that would have rotted or been burnt before is now locked up and put very safely in the soil."

And while some argue that it's at best a short term solution, and that there's no guarantee that the coconut biochar will keep the carbon buried in soil, it's an intriguing experiment that at the very least allows an island nation to cut back on its fertilizer imports--and cut back on its carbon while it's at it.

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