Potential of Alnus acuminata based agroforestry for carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services in Rwanda

Alnus acuminata Kunth. (alnus) is widely used in agroforestry systems across the globe and is believed to provide multiple ecosystem services; however, evidence is lacking in agroforestry literature to support the perceived benefits, particularly in Rwanda. To understand carbon sequestration potential and other benefits of alnus, a household survey, tree inventory and destructive sampling were conducted in north-western Rwanda. Over 75% of the respondents had alnus trees in their farms. The trees provide stakes for climbing beans, firewood and timber. They also improve soil fertility and control soil erosion. Farmers had between 130 and 161 alnus trees per hectare with an average height of 7.7 ± 0.59 m and diameter at breast height of 16.3 ± 1.39 cm. The largest biomass proportion was found in stems (70.5%) while branches and leaves stock about 16.5 and 13% of the total biomass, respectively. At farm level, aboveground biomass of alnus trees was estimated to be 27.2 ± 0.7 Mg ha−1 representing 13.6 Mg of carbon (C) per hectare. Biomass carbon increased with tree size, from 7.1 ± 0.2 Mg C ha−1 in 3 years old trees to 34.4 ± 2.2 Mg C ha−1 in 10 years old trees. The converse was observed with elevation; biomass carbon decreased with increasing elevation from 21.4 ± 1.29 Mg C ha−1 at low (2011–2110 m) to 9.6 ± 0.75 Mg C ha−1 in the high elevation (> 2510 m). In conclusion, alnus agroforestry significantly contributes to carbon sequestration, although the magnitude of these benefits varies with tree age and elevation. Planting alnus trees on farms can meet local needs for stakes for climbing beans, wood and soil fertility improvement, as well as the global need for regulation of climate change.

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    ICRAF Working Papers

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    Cyamweshi R A, Kuyah S, Mukuralinda A, Muthuri C


    Aboveground biomass, Agroforestry, Carbon stock, Firewood, Stakes, Soil fertility