Paul participated in the EU/Tacis supported “Sustainable Integrated Land Use of Eurasian Steppe”, to develop sustainable economic land-use planning of the Steppe region – much of which had suffered from decades of degradation or even abandonment.
One main recommendation was to explore re-pasturing Steppe for beef farming, which would simultaneously help with carbon capture and long-term sequestration as soil humus. Over a few decades, each Hectare of abandoned/ degraded land would be able to absorb an additional 1-2% CO2, in its 30-40cm topsoil, but with > 1 M Ha of Steppe land to target, the potential for CO2 sequestration was >20 million tonnes.
Why not simply re-pasture? Well, the beef farming would provide an economic reason for this land management, as well as providing year-round jobs (help redress the demographic imbalance caused by young-adults emigrating from rural areas as it became predominantly agrarian). And we calculated that the methane generated from the cattle would represent only 3-4% CO2 equivalent of CO2 captured by the soil regeneration.
Other areas undergoing development included alternative income streams, such as nature conservation and eco-tourism, and renewable energy, including bio-mass for district heating/ grain drying, as well as wind, solar and hydro. Ukraine is big, it gets lots of sunlight, has areas of good wind (although it also has a lot of migratory birds – so a balance is needed), plenty of rivers, and the agricultural sector generates lots of organic waste. The main barrier is that, without some incentive or legislative enforcement, it is difficult for these RE sources to compete economically with fossil fuels.