Climate Change, Carbon Sequestration, and Coconut-Based Ecosystems
Climate change, a key global environmental issue of the day, refers to the gradual increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is believed to be caused by the increase in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). Concerned by the serious consequences of anthropogenic climate change, several global initiatives have been launched to address the issue. They fall under two broad categories, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, aimed at reducing GHG emissions and their negative impacts, respectively. Carbon sequestration, the prominent mitigation strategy, refers to capturing atmospheric carbon and securing it in long-lived pools, such as through photosynthesis by plants. Climate-smart agriculture is the rallying theme for adaptation strategies, which is a combination of site-specific management activities. Most climate-change mitigation and adaptation studies in agriculture so far have focused on annual crops, with little attention being paid to perennials such as coconut. Coconut-based ecosystems offer good possibilities for enhancing carbon sequestration through crop combinations involving a variety of plants including food crops, tubers, vines, and tree crops. For climate-change adaptation, the annual intercrops planted under coconuts could be managed for optimum benefits for the whole system. A holistic approach focusing on the overall productivity and sustainability of the whole system rather than the palm alone is needed to make the coconut-based agroecosystems resilient to climate change.