The Maldives Enlists New Fertilizer/Carbon Remover: Charred Coconuts

By Allison Bond | September 3, 2009 3:54 pm

MaldivesThe Republic of Maldives has big plans for discarded coconut shells: they can become both a fertilizer and a planet-cooler. The Maldivian government has announced plans to burn the shells and turn them into biochar, a form of high-carbon charcoal that takes a long time to decompose, and which can be used to nourish the soil. It’s one effort of many that the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago hopes will help it achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2020.

The “slow-cooked” organic waste project was launched through a partnership between the Maldives government and the British company Carbon Gold. The scheme would not only reduce organic garbage, it would also decrease dependence on imported fertilizer. Carbon Gold argues that the biochar is an effective way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The company says the fertiliser also improves soil fertility…. “Waste that would have rotted or been burnt before is now locked up and put very safely in the soil,” [BBC], says company cofounder Daniel Morrel. Researchers believe that biochar doesn’t break down (and therefore release its carbon) for hundreds of years.

Proponents say that using biochar would also be beneficial for the people of Maldives. Under the scheme, small kilns would be installed in villages across the Maldives, controlled by the villagers, who would use them to dispose of waste and generate energy and fertiliser. The latter alone could lead to huge savings. The soil in the Maldives is so poor that islanders have to fertilise it with cow dung imported from India at about £60 [nearly $100] a tonne [Times Online]. Furthermore, Maldives has a particularly vested interest in combating climate change: Scientists believe that if sea levels rise as predicted, the nation could be the first to find itself underwater.

Related Content:
80beats: The Maldives Aims to Become First Carbon-Neutral Nation
80beats: Maldives President Says His Country Must Save Up for a New Homeland
80beats: A Rising Tide Swamps All Coasts: New Estimates of Sea Level Rise Spell Global Trouble
80beats: Meet the Black Phantom, the Huge Microwave Oven That Fights Climate Change

Image: flickr / nattu

  • robot makes music

    So… they’re going to burn coconut husks to remove carbon. Sounds.. great?

    I’d like to point out that we thought plastics wouldn’t break down for tens of thousands of years. Whoops on that point.

  • Dave English

    The land on these islands are not much above sea level. If I were a Maldivian, I’d think about investing in dredging equipment and import rock, dirt and sand from anywhere that could spare it. The sea will rise, global warming or not, as it has for thousands of years, it’s just the rate of rise that’s the question until another ice age starts.

  • %!!#?@!

    They should invest in a western approach: take revenue from tourism, and invest in American businesses. Ask those businesses to set up shop
    at a reduced tax rate, then simply blow up one of their own government offices. Blame can be laid on a higher neighboring islands “extremists” and the little island gets a big island upgrade


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