The Biochar for Sustainable Soils (B4SS) Project

The Biochar for Sustainable Soils (B4SS) is a medium-sized project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the Land Degradation Focal Area in the GEF-5 Strategies. The United Nations Development Programme (UNEP) is the implementing agency, whereas Starfish Initiatives is the executing agency for the B4SS project. The main objective of the B4SS is to demonstrate and promote the adoption of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices involving biochar (charcoal applied to soils).

“There is potential for scaling up nationally and globally to other regions affected by similar conditions.”

B4SS inception meeting in Nanjing 14 April 2015

B4SS inception meeting in Nanjing 14 April 2015

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides top-up funding to existing activities in developing countries, in order to enhance the global environmental benefits. GEF has funded the B4SS project to collate the findings from biochar research being undertaken in China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam. This work is particularly related to quantifying the agronomic and environmental effects of biochars, and identifying optimal formulations of biochar. The project has a focus on field demonstrations, training and extension activities, intended to share new knowledge on use of biochar for SLM with farmers, researchers and natural resource managers around the world.

The uniqueness of the B4SS project is based on the development of innovative formulations based on low application rates of biochar. This project will evaluate the potential effectiveness of biochar formulations, in comparison with other soil amendments for enhancing fertility, in a range of situations. There is potential for scaling up nationally and globally to other regions affected by similar conditions.


The principal B4SS project objective is to demonstrate and promote the adoption of sustainable land management (SLM) practices involving the use of innovative organic amendments, based on biochar, that improve the capture and efficient use of nutrients, and enhance productivity, improve climate resilience, support rural livelihoods, and contribute to watershed management. The project seeks to promote the diffusion and successful adoption of biochar techniques for sustainable land management (SLM) among the B4SS partner countries, and beyond.

The project aims at collating the knowledge that is generated through the implementation of the targeted biochar demonstration projects. Awareness and improved understanding amongst smallholders, including women’s groups, and resource managers about the most effective biochar formulations and application rates to improve soil functions and reduce land degradation, will be created and shared among stakeholders. This integrated global approach to advance the knowledge on the use of biochar for SLM is expected to be an effective and empowering way of conveying other messages to farming communities mainly interested in soil improvement. The cost effectiveness of the knowledge management approach proposed in the B4SS project is not only related to the quantity of smallholders targeted but also to the amount of interested parties that could be reached through the website and publication of the B4SS good practice guide.

Biochar stove demonstration, Peru.

What is the importance of the B4SS Project?

Main Partners