Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 179–191 | Cite as

Soil and vegetation carbon pools in a mountainous watershed of Nepal

  • Bharat Man Shrestha
  • Bal Ram Singh
Research Article


Assessment of carbon stocks in vegetation and soil is a basic step in evaluating the carbon sequestration potential of an ecosystem. We collected soil (core and composite) samples from 0–10, 10–20, 20–40, and 40–70 cm depths, or down to the bed rock, in the soil profile of four types of forest (managed dense Shorea (DS), degraded forest (DF), pine mixed (PS), and Schima–Castanopsis (SC) forest) and two types of cultivated land (irrigated low land (Khet) and rain-fed upland (Bari)) in the Pokhare Khola watershed of Nepal. In addition to other essential properties, soil bulk density and carbon concentration were assessed. Fine roots were also collected from each sampling site. The biomass of standing trees and shrubs was estimated by using allometric relationships after measuring their diameter and height, while the biomass of grasses was estimated by a direct measurement of grass from a defined area. The carbon stocks in all forest vegetation (trees, shrubs, and ground grass) and in the soil profiles under different land uses were estimated. The vegetation carbon pool was largest in DS forest (219 ± 34 Mg ha−1) and least in SC forest (36 ± 5 Mg ha−1), while its order among forest types was DS > DF > PS > SC. The soil organic carbon (SOC) pool was largest in Bari land (15.7 ± 1.5 kg C m−2) and least in PS forest (6.2 ± 0.5 kg C m−2) but the overall order among land uses was Bari > DF > Khet > SC > DS > PS. The total SOC stock in the whole watershed was 59 815 Mg, of which 36, 32, and 32% were in the 0–20, 20–40, and >40 cm soil depths, respectively. In the surface layer (0–10 cm), SOC stock was highest in Bari (36%) followed by DS (31%), and least was in PS forest (3%). This distribution pattern can primarily be assigned to SOC concentration and area covered by these land uses.


Ecosystem carbon pools Mountain watershed Nepal Soil organic carbon Vegetation carbon 



Financial support for this research was provided through a Norwegian Research Council (NFR)-funded project (no. 141343/730) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Some complementary field facilities were generated by the EU and NUFU-supported Himalayan Degradation Project (P58/03) operating in the same watershed. The laboratory and logistic facility was provided by Kathmandu University, Nepal. Professor Bishal K. Sitaula and Dr Roshan M. Bajracharya provided guidance in carrying out the field work, which is highly appreciated. We are thankful to Professor Mohan K. Balla for his kind cooperation in the field work and for providing additional forest data. Ram P. Sharma helped in vegetation identification and its mathematical aspect.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (IPM)Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)ÅsNorway

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