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Evaluating the role of plantations as carbon sinks: an example of an integrative approach from the humid tropics

by Montagnini, F; Porras, C.
Publisher: 1998Subject(s): ARBOLES FORESTALES | BIOMASA | TALLOS | CRECIMIENTO | NUTRIENTES | SUELO | FERTILIDAD DEL SUELO | DISPONIBILIDAD DE NUTRIENTES | CICLO BIOGEOQUIMICO | TROPICOS HUMEDOS | TIERRAS BAJAS | PROPIEDADES FISICOQUIMICAS | SUELO | EVALUACION | COSTA RICA | FOREST TREES | BIOMASS | STEMS | GROWTH | NUTRIENTS | SOIL | SOIL FERTILITY | NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY | CYCLING | HUMID TROPICS | LOWLAND | CHEMICOPHYSICAL PROPERTIES | SOIL | EVALUATION | COSTA RICA | ARBRE FORESTIER | BIOMASSE | TIGE | CROISSANCE | SUBSTANCE NUTRITIVE | SOL | FERTILITE DU SOL | DISPONIBILITE D'ELEMENT NUTRITIF | CYCLE BIOGEOCHIMIQUE | TROPIQUES HUMIDES | REGION DE BASSE ALTITUDE | PROPRIETE PHYSICOCHIMIQUE | SOL | EVALUATION | COSTA RICA | CAPTURA DEL CARBONO ATMOSFERICOOnline Resources: En In: Environmental Management (EUA) v. 22(3) p. 459-470Summary: Despite their fast growth, tropical plantations are a small sink of atmospheric carbon because they occupy only a small area in relation to other land uses world-wide. Proper design and management of plantations can increase biomass accumulation rates, making them more effective C sinks. However, fast-growing plantations can extract large amounts of nutrients from the soil, and site fertility declines may limit sustained plantation forestry after a few rotations. We measured aboveground biomass accumulation, carbon sequestration, and soil chmistry in three young plantations of 12 indigenous tree species in pure and mixed designs in the humid lowlands of LCosta Rica. Annual biomass increments for the three mixed plantations ranged from 10-13 Mg/ha. The mixtures of four species gave higher biomass per hectare than that obtained by the sum of one fourth hectare of each species in pure plots. At this early age of the plantations, estimated annual C sequestration values were comparable to other reports from young plantations of exotic species commonly grown in the tropics. Four years after planting, decrases in soil nutrients were apparent in pure plots of some of the fastest growing species, while beneficial effects on soils were noted under other species. The mixed plots showed intermediate values for the nutrients examined and, sometimes, improved soil conditions. A mixture of fast and slower growing species yields products at different times, with the slower growing species constituing a longer term sink for fixed carbon. Examination of the role of tropical plantations as C sinks necessitates integrative approaches that consider rates of C sequestration, potential deleterious effects on ecosystem nutrients, and economic, social, and environmental constraints.
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Despite their fast growth, tropical plantations are a small sink of atmospheric carbon because they occupy only a small area in relation to other land uses world-wide. Proper design and management of plantations can increase biomass accumulation rates, making them more effective C sinks. However, fast-growing plantations can extract large amounts of nutrients from the soil, and site fertility declines may limit sustained plantation forestry after a few rotations. We measured aboveground biomass accumulation, carbon sequestration, and soil chmistry in three young plantations of 12 indigenous tree species in pure and mixed designs in the humid lowlands of LCosta Rica. Annual biomass increments for the three mixed plantations ranged from 10-13 Mg/ha. The mixtures of four species gave higher biomass per hectare than that obtained by the sum of one fourth hectare of each species in pure plots. At this early age of the plantations, estimated annual C sequestration values were comparable to other reports from young plantations of exotic species commonly grown in the tropics. Four years after planting, decrases in soil nutrients were apparent in pure plots of some of the fastest growing species, while beneficial effects on soils were noted under other species. The mixed plots showed intermediate values for the nutrients examined and, sometimes, improved soil conditions. A mixture of fast and slower growing species yields products at different times, with the slower growing species constituing a longer term sink for fixed carbon. Examination of the role of tropical plantations as C sinks necessitates integrative approaches that consider rates of C sequestration, potential deleterious effects on ecosystem nutrients, and economic, social, and environmental constraints.

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