Effect of the replacement of tropical forests with tree plantations on soil organic carbon levels in the Jomoro district, Ghana
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Background and aims
In the Jomoro district in Ghana, tree plantations were the first cause of deforestation in the past, drastically reducing the area occupied by primary forests. The aim of this study was to quantify soil organic carbon (SOC) losses due to a change in land use from primary forest to tree plantations (cocoa, coconut, rubber, oil palm) on the different substrates of the district. Secondary forests and mixed plantations were also included in the study.
Soils were sampled at different depths up to 100 cm along a series of chronosequences in each of the three substrates (Granite, Lower Birrimian and Tertiary Sands) present in the area.
The highest SOC losses in the 0–30 cm layer were caused by the conversion of primary forests to tree plantations: cocoa −61 % of the original SOC stock, coconut −55 %, rubber −35 % and oil palm 28 %, while mixed plantations and secondary forests showed a loss of 23 % and 21 % of the original SOC stock, respectively. C losses were less apparent from the entire profile (to a depth of 100 cm).
All conversions to tree plantations caused substantial SOC losses, comparable to the conversion of forests to agricultural systems. Secondary forests and mixed plantations were the only sustainable land uses that restricted SOC losses considerably.
KeywordsDeforestation Land use change Primary forests Soil organic carbon Tree plantations
This work was funded by the ERC grant GHG Africa no. 247349. The authors gratefully acknowledge Balangtaa C (park manager), the park rangers, Cudjoe E, Cobbiena J, Mensah JJ, the chiefs of the various villages for their precious support during the sampling campaign and Prof. De Angelis P, at the University of La Tuscia, for CN analyses. A special acknowledgment is for Tobin B. for critically reading the manuscript and for English editing.
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