Carbon dynamics in cocoa agroforestry systems in Central Cameroon: afforestation of savannah as a sequestration opportunity uri icon

abstract

  • Afforestation of savannah is suggested as an approach to help addressing climate change mitigation through increased carbon (C) storage. Previous studies in Central Cameroon evidenced farmers' ability to realize afforestation by establishing cocoa-based agroforestry systems (cAFS) on humid savannah. In this forest-savannah transition zone, we studied an 80years chronosequence of cAFS to assess C dynamics. We selected cAFS established after forest or savannah, and we used local forest and savannah patches as controls. Aboveground carbon (AGC) was highest in the forests (118Mg C ha(-1)) and lowest in the savannahs (8Mg C ha(-1)). Systems established after forest (F-cAFS) revealed a mean AGC 40% lower than that of forests and did not evolve with time. The AGC of cAFS established after savannah (S-cAFS) increased with time and reached the mean AGC of F-cAFS (72Mg C ha(-1)) after ca. 75years. Soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration depended on clay content (R-2=0.55, P<0.001). The SOC concentration of F-cAFS did not evolve with time and revealed no difference with forest. In S-cAFS, considering a time of about 80years after afforestation, the average annual increase in SOC concentration in the 0-15cm layer ranged from 7.3 parts per thousand in soils with low clay content (10-15%) (R-2=0.60, P<0.01) to 9.5 parts per thousand in soils with higher clay content (20-25%). No significant change in SOC concentration was found for the 15-30cm layer. Overall, S-cAFS revealed to store and maintain significant levels of C both in the aboveground biomass and in the soil. Such an afforestation thus appeared as a valuable local strategy to combine cocoa and other perennial plant productions with C storage while avoiding deforestation.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019