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The Potential for Carbon Sequestration Through Reforestation of Abandoned Tropical Agricultural and Pasture Lands

Literature: Journal Articles Available at NO COST

Silver, W.L., Ostertag, R. & Lugo, A.E. 2000, "The Potential for Carbon Sequestration Through Reforestation of Abandoned Tropical Agricultural and Pasture Lands", Restoration Ecology, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 394-407.

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  • Ecosystem Sciences Division, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, 151 Hilgard Hall #3110, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, U.S.A.
  • International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Call Box 25000, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00928


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  • This article reviews the field of carbon accumulation in tropical secondary forests to shed light on the ability of reforestation to encourage carbon sequestration. The authors find 5 main insights into the process:
  • 1) Previous land use has an important role in the rate of C sequestration. Above-ground biomass accumulation is higher in areas that have low degradation and relatively high fertility (especially on some areas of fertilized agriculture). Meanwhile, below-ground accumulation was higher in pasture where the pasture grasses and the compaction of pasture use can help improve soil carbon storage and slow the loss of C from the soil.
  • 2) Dry forests accumulate soil C at a faster rate than wet or moist forests. This is dependent on the root biomass not being harmed by the land use.
  • 3) accumulation is continuous for at least 80 years of age of a regenerating forest, however the rates can change by life zone and age.
  • 4) the rate of C accumulation decreases over time, especially for above-ground biomass. Therefore, short term measurements of storage may show higher values than measurements taken over the life of the forest.
  • 5) Biomass allocation is species and community specific. Grasses and some species store more below-ground carbon. while most plantation species store more above-ground carbon. These dynamics should be considered when designing reforestation projects for carbon storage.
  • The authors assert that reforestation efforts can be justified for carbon offsets, however, detailed consideration of the environment, measurement of carbon, both above and below-ground carbon, and long term rates of sequestration need to be considered in the plans.

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