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Land Use Changes and Sustainable Land Management Practices for Soil Carbon Sequestration in Sub-Saharan African Agro-ecosystems

  • Kennedy Were
  • Bal Ram Singh
  • George Ayaga
Chapter
  • 34 Downloads

Abstract

Land use plays an important role in the global system. It alters in response to changing human needs driven by an array of socio-economic, technological, political, and environmental factors. However, the rate of land use change in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains alarming due to a population that is rapidly growing at the rate of 2.6% annually and technological advances leading to the transformation of the land surface. For example, between 2010 and 2015, the rate of forest decline was about 2.8 million ha year−1. The prominent mode of transformation has been the conversion of fragile native ecosystems (i.e., forests, woodlands, savannahs, grasslands, and steppe) into agro-ecosystems in order to fulfill the escalating demand for food, fiber, fuel, and shelter. This has had ramifications on the principal carbon (C) pools, especially the soil organic C (SOC) pool. Studies have shown that a decline in SOC stocks following deforestation in SSA can at times exceed 50%. However, the exact magnitude of SOC depletion in SSA is still uncertain owing to scarcity of reliable long-term data needed for accounting. Replenishing SOC stocks in SSA agro-ecosystems calls for adoption of a combination of appropriate sustainable land management (SLM) practices (e.g., conservation agriculture (CA) and integrated nutrient management), which can enhance the capture and storage of C in plants and soils, as well as mitigate GHG emissions and climate change. For example, soil C sequestration under CA and fertilizer use in Africa has, on average, been 0.37 Mg C ha−1 year−1and 0.63 Mg C ha−1 year−1, respectively. In this chapter, we have provided a synthesis of the impact of land use changes (i.e., conversion of forests to croplands) on the SOC pool, as well as the SLM strategies with a potential for sequestering C in SSA agricultural soils.

Keywords

Land conversions Land management Soil carbon sequestration Sustainability Sub-Saharan Africa 

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Al3+

Aluminum

ASALs

Arid and semi-arid lands

BF

Bamboo forest

C

Carbon

CA

Conservation agriculture

Ca2+

Calcium

CH4

Methane

CO2

Carbon dioxide

DOM

Dissolved organic matter

DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Fe2+

Iron

GHG

Greenhouse gases

INM

Integrated nutrient management

ITPS

Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils

K

Potassium

Kg

Kilogram

Mg

Megagram

Mg2+

Magnesium

MRTs

Mean residence times

N

Nitrogen

N2O

Nitrous oxide

NF

Natural forest

P

Phosphorus

PF

Plantation forest

Pg

Petagram

POM

Particulate organic matter

SIC

Soil inorganic carbon

SLM

Sustainable land management

SOC

Soil organic carbon

SOM

Soil organic matter

SSA

Sub-Saharan Africa

UN

United Nations

UNFCCC

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kennedy Were
    • 1
  • Bal Ram Singh
    • 2
  • George Ayaga
    • 3
  1. 1.Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, Food Crops Research Centre - KabeteNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  3. 3.Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Food Crops Research Centre - AlupeBusiaKenya

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