Carbon Stocks in Miombo Woodlands: Evidence from over 50 Years

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Miombo woodlands are extensive dry forest ecosystems in central and southern Africa covering ≈2.7 million km2. Despite their vast expanse and global importance for carbon storage, the long-term carbon stocks and dynamics have been poorly researched. The objective of this paper was to present and summarize the evidence gathered on aboveground carbon (AGC) and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks of miombo woodlands from the 1960s to mid-2018 through a literature review. We reviewed the data to find out to what extent aboveground carbon and soil organic carbon stocks are found in miombo woodlands and further investigated if are there differences in carbon stocks based on woodland categories (old-growth, disturbed and re-growth). A review protocol was used to identify 56 publications from which quantitative data on AGC and SOC stocks were extracted. We found that the mean AGC in old-growth miombo (45.8 ± 17.8 Mg C ha−1), disturbed miombo (26.7 ± 15 Mg C ha−1), and regrowth miombo (18.8 ± 16.8 Mg C ha−1) differed significantly. Data on rainfall, stand age, and land-use suggested that the variability in aboveground carbon is site-specific, relating to climatic and geographic conditions as well as land-use history. SOC stocks in both old-growth and re-growth miombo were found to vary widely. It must be noted these soil data are provided only for information; they inconsistently refer to varying soil depths and are thus difficult to interpret. The wide range reported suggests a need for further studies which are much more systematic in method and reporting. Other limitations of the dataset include the lack of systematic sampling and lack of data in some countries, viz. Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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