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High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests

High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests
High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests

Tropical forests store 40–50 per cent of terrestrial vegetation carbon 1. However, spatial variations in aboveground live tree biomass carbon (AGC) stocks remain poorly understood, in particular in tropical montane forests 2. Owing to climatic and soil changes with increasing elevation 3, AGC stocks are lower in tropical montane forests compared with lowland forests 2. Here we assemble and analyse a dataset of structurally intact old-growth forests (AfriMont) spanning 44 montane sites in 12 African countries. We find that montane sites in the AfriMont plot network have a mean AGC stock of 149.4 megagrams of carbon per hectare (95% confidence interval 137.1–164.2), which is comparable to lowland forests in the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network 4 and about 70 per cent and 32 per cent higher than averages from plot networks in montane 2,5,6 and lowland 7 forests in the Neotropics, respectively. Notably, our results are two-thirds higher than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change default values for these forests in Africa 8. We find that the low stem density and high abundance of large trees of African lowland forests 4 is mirrored in the montane forests sampled. This carbon store is endangered: we estimate that 0.8 million hectares of old-growth African montane forest have been lost since 2000. We provide country-specific montane forest AGC stock estimates modelled from our plot network to help to guide forest conservation and reforestation interventions. Our findings highlight the need for conserving these biodiverse 9,10 and carbon-rich ecosystems.

0028-0836
536-542
Cuni-Sanchez, Aida
2ee48e91-422f-4672-bf2e-9b9851bb8899
Sullivan, Martin J. P.
c8560375-f3cd-4721-baa1-9baccffdcce7
Platts, Phil J.
0f522fcd-eff8-426e-be48-4e37ea78951a
Peh, Kelvin
0bd60207-dad8-43fb-a84a-a15e09b024cc
et al.
Cuni-Sanchez, Aida
2ee48e91-422f-4672-bf2e-9b9851bb8899
Sullivan, Martin J. P.
c8560375-f3cd-4721-baa1-9baccffdcce7
Platts, Phil J.
0f522fcd-eff8-426e-be48-4e37ea78951a
Peh, Kelvin
0bd60207-dad8-43fb-a84a-a15e09b024cc

Cuni-Sanchez, Aida, Sullivan, Martin J. P. and Platts, Phil J. , et al. (2021) High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests. Nature, 596 (7873), 536-542. (doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03728-4).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Tropical forests store 40–50 per cent of terrestrial vegetation carbon 1. However, spatial variations in aboveground live tree biomass carbon (AGC) stocks remain poorly understood, in particular in tropical montane forests 2. Owing to climatic and soil changes with increasing elevation 3, AGC stocks are lower in tropical montane forests compared with lowland forests 2. Here we assemble and analyse a dataset of structurally intact old-growth forests (AfriMont) spanning 44 montane sites in 12 African countries. We find that montane sites in the AfriMont plot network have a mean AGC stock of 149.4 megagrams of carbon per hectare (95% confidence interval 137.1–164.2), which is comparable to lowland forests in the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network 4 and about 70 per cent and 32 per cent higher than averages from plot networks in montane 2,5,6 and lowland 7 forests in the Neotropics, respectively. Notably, our results are two-thirds higher than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change default values for these forests in Africa 8. We find that the low stem density and high abundance of large trees of African lowland forests 4 is mirrored in the montane forests sampled. This carbon store is endangered: we estimate that 0.8 million hectares of old-growth African montane forest have been lost since 2000. We provide country-specific montane forest AGC stock estimates modelled from our plot network to help to guide forest conservation and reforestation interventions. Our findings highlight the need for conserving these biodiverse 9,10 and carbon-rich ecosystems.

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Cuni-Sanchez et al - Nature - Accepted version - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 14 June 2021
Published date: 26 August 2021
Additional Information: Funding Information: Acknowledgements We thank the people of the many villages and local communities who welcomed our field teams and became our field assistants, without whose support the AfriMont dataset would not have been possible. Cameroon: villages Elak-Oku, Bokwoango, Bakingili, Muandelengoh, Enyandong, Ekangmbeng, Ngalmoa, Dikome Balue, Muyange, Matamani; assistants E. Ndive, D. Wultof, F. Keming, E. Bafon, J. Meyeih, T. K. Konsum, J. Esembe, F. Luma, F. Teke, E. E. Dagobert, E. D. Ndode, N. F. Njikang; Democratic Republic of the Congo: Bunyakiri, J. Kalume, W. Gului, D. Cirhagaga, B. Mugisho. Kenya: assistants A. M. Aide, H. Lerapo, J. Harugura, R. A. Wamuro, J. Lekatap, L. Lemooli, D. Kimuzi, B. M. Lombo, J. Broas, J. Hietanen, V. Heikinheimo, E. Schäfer. Rwanda: assistants I. Rusizana, P. Niyontegereje, J. B. Gakima, F. Ngayabahiga. Tanzania: TEAM staff and affiliates. Uganda: K. Laughlin, X. Mugumya, L. Etwodu, M. Mugisa. For logistical and administrative support, we are indebted to international, national and local institutions: SOPISDEW, Mt Cameroon National Park, Tropical Plant Exploration Group (TroPEG), Institut Congolais de Conservation de la Nature, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Itombwe Nature Reserve, NEMA Marsabit Office, Taita Research Station, Kenya Forest Service, Rwanda Development Board, Nyungwe National Park, Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania National Parks Authority, Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Makerere University Biological Field Station, Uganda National Forestry Authority and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. Field campaigns for AfriMont were funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Intra-European Fellowships (number 328075) and Global Fellowships (number 74356), National Geographic Explorer (NGS-53344R-18), Czech Science Foundation (number 21-17125S), Rufford Small Grant Foundation (16712-B, 19476-D), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (BIODEV project), the Academy of Finland (number 318645), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Leverhulme Trust, the Strategic Research Area Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate, the German Research Foundation (DFG), Gatsby Plants, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and International Development Research Centre of Canada. This paper is also a product of the AfriTRON network, for which we are indebted to hundreds of institutions, field assistants and local communities for establishing and maintaining the plots, including the Forestry Development Authority of the Government of Liberia, the University of Liberia, University of Ibadan (Nigeria), the University of Abeokuta (Nigeria), the University of Yaounde I (Cameroon), the National Herbarium of Yaounde (Cameroon), the University of Buea (Cameroon), Bioversity International (Cameroon), Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo), The Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestière (CEFRECOF, Epulu, Democratic Republic of Congo), the Institut National pour l’Étude et la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA, Democratic Republic of Congo), the École Régionale Postuniversitaire d’Aménagement et de Gestion intégrés des Forêts et Territoires tropicaux (ERAIFT Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo), WWF-Democratic Republic of Congo, WCS-Democratic Republic of Congo, the Université de Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo), Université Officielle de Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo), Université de Mbujimayi (Democratic Republic of Congo), le Ministère de l'Environnement et Développement Durable (Democratic Republic of Congo), the FORETS project in Yangambi (CIFOR, CGIAR and the European Union; Democratic Republic of Congo), the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST, Uganda), WCS-Uganda, the Uganda Forest Department, the Commission of Central African Forests (COMIFAC), the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre (Tanzania) and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania). The AfriTRION network has been supported by the European Research Council (291585, ‘T-FORCES’ – Tropical Forests in the Changing Earth System, Advanced Grant to O.L.P. and S.L.L.), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (283080, ‘GEOCARBON’). We are grateful to A. Daniels, F. Mbayu, T. R. Feldpausch, E. Kearsley, J. Lloyd, R. Lowe, J. Mukinzi, L. Ojo, A. T. Peterson, J. Talbot and L. Zemagho for giving us access to their plot data. We also thank C. Chatelain (Geneva Botanic Gardens) for access to the African Plants Database and to H. Tang for helping to explore the use of GEDI data. Data from AfriTRON and most of AfriMont are stored and curated by ForestPlots.net, a long-term cyberinfrastructure initiative hosted at the University of Leeds that unites permanent plot records and their contributing scientists from the world’s tropical forests. The development of ForestPlots.net and curation of African data have been funded by many sources, including the ERC (principally from AdG 291585 ‘T-FORCES’), the UK Natural Environment Research Council (including NE/B503384/1, NE/ F005806/1, NE/P008755/1, NE/N012542/1 and NE/I028122/1), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (‘RAINFOR’, ‘MonANPeru’), the EU Horizon programme (especially ‘GEOCARBON’, ‘Amazalert’) and the Royal Society (University Research Fellowship to S.L.L.). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451388
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451388
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 3248f040-6e09-4272-a51a-68c7829c371d
ORCID for Kelvin Peh: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2921-1341

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Date deposited: 23 Sep 2021 16:38
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:59

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Contributors

Author: Aida Cuni-Sanchez
Author: Martin J. P. Sullivan
Author: Phil J. Platts
Author: Kelvin Peh ORCID iD
Corporate Author: et al.

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